What is Silver Week you ask? Good question, because I had no idea what it was either. All I knew was that it meant “holiday!!!” for me and the other teachers and staff in school. So I googled it and learned quite a bit of interesting information about the Japanese holiday system, especially in regards to Silver Week.
So here’s how it goes: In Japan, if a workday is in between two holidays, that day would also be considered a holiday. Two big holidays this month were Respect for the Aged Day (9/21) and the Autumn Equinox (9/23). September 22 thus becomes an additional holiday. (Read more here!)
This year however, Respect for the Aged Day landed on Monday, resulting in a five day holiday known as Silver Week. Apparently, Silver Week is rare and just so happened to occur this year. The next year Silver Week would occur again would be in 2026- whoa! We got lucky.
*Unless noted, all photos were taken by Trevor- they’re all turning out so good!*
Since this was my first long vacation, I decided that Trevor and I should head up into the cities to spend a couple days there for some fun and relaxation. We took off for Nara City, Saturday morning, the first day of my vacation. Originally, I planned on parking at Yamato Yagi station in Kashihara- but Trevor convinced me that driving to Nara city would not only get us closer to our hotel and the JR Nara train station, but it would also force me to practice driving. It was a good idea! Because I am proud to say that I’m starting to become more and more and comfortable with driving! Driving in and out of the mountains has given me great practice for these city escapades.
So here is a breakdown of what we did during our Silver Week!
Namba, Osaka (9/19): Big Camera and Dotonbori
Namba was the main reason why I wanted to drive up to the cities and spend the night in a hotel. I haven’t been to Namba since the last time I went to Japan (about 4 years ago) and it was definitely one of the highlights of my trip back then. I remember my host family taking me there for a day trip and buying my Justice Gundam model kit and introducing me to takoyaki for the first time. And then going back there again with the delegation group for a day of karaoke and walking around the wide array of anime shops and souvenir stores. I was so excited to go there again!
We took the train from JR Nara station, changed trains at Tennoji station, and arrived in Namba a little under an hour. When we got off at the station, we went up and decided to walk to a store called “Big Camera.” We mainly went because Trevor wanted to look at all the camera goodies and accessories. We found that the store had five or seven levels, each a different department. Naturally, we stopped on the floor that dealt with camera goods and then headed up a couple more levels to one of my favorite floors of any store- the toys and games level.
After we had fun poking through all of the toys, we decided to walk across the street to an alleyway that looked picture-worthy and promising of interesting things and events.
We walked down an alley which I can only presume was an assortment of international restaurants, ranging from Thai cuisine, to Vietnamese, and Chinese.
Side trip! We also went to a small pet store that had the cuuuuuuutest Shiba puppy!! (Of course we couldn’t take pictures :() He looked like a little fox!! I don’t remember if this pet store was in the same alleyway as all these restaurants or not…. If it was…. that’s pretty messed up LOL.
After walking out of this alleyway, I saw the giant crab that I remembered from the last time I was in Namba!! We were in Dotonbori, best known as being the section of Namba with tons of amazing restaurants and food, some being open 24 hours! We were starting to get a little hungry from walking around, so we decided to look for a little sit-down bar-like restaurant with some yummy food and happy hour.
We found one which unfortunately, I don’t remember the name 😦 All I remember was that the yakitori they had was amazing, it was happy hour, and the owner/chef was genuinely interested in us and where we were from. I was surprised his English sounded almost fluent! When I told him we lived in Totsukawa, his face became so shocked. “Totsukawa?! In Wakayama? No… Nara! …. Totsukawa?!?” I think he was surprised that we travelled all the way to Namba from there. He was very kind and sweet and told us to come back anytime 🙂 Which we most certainly will!
After leaving the restaurant, we continued walking, Trevor taking pictures of the sun setting. We came to a bridge that crossed a river that ran through the city. For me, it was the first time seeing such a view of Namba at night. Trevor took some amazing photos.
It was starting to get dark, so we decided to end our short day trip in Namba and head back to the hotel in Nara city to check in. We plan on returning back to Namba Halloween night to
party and create chaos explore more of the city. We can’t wait!
Tennoji, Osaka (9/20): Tennoji Park and Keitakuen Garden
The next day, we checked out of the hotel and decided to do a quick and small day trip to Tennoji, where we made our transfer to Namba the day before. We noticed coming back to the hotel that there was a zoo and a park that Tennoji was known for. But after seeing reviews online of the animals being in small cages and in not-so-great conditions, we decided to nix going to the zoo and just walk around the park in search for some animal sculptures!
Tennoji that day was super hot, so we decided to give up on looking for these sculptures (after asking three people) and went to the Keitakuen Garden. (The fee was only ¥150 for each person!) It was so pretty! It reminded me of the Japanese Gardens from my community college, but obviously much bigger and so authentic! Apparently, this garden is what remains from an eighth century canal, so it is also a historic feature of Tennoji Park!
We kept our visit fairly short- we were getting eaten alive by the dozens of mosquitos that were hanging around the garden. Where did they all come from?! I was still itching almost a week later… damn bugs.
After a long but fun weekend of spending time up in the cities, it was time to head back home down to Totsukawa. I hope one day to explore more places like this! And I’m so excited to be going to Namba again in the near future.
Stay tuned! Silver Week (Pt.2) will be on our adventures in Shingu!