Back to the grind: Workers in Japan return after extended Golden Week holiday

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Back to the grind: Workers in Japan return after extended Golden Week holiday

The nation went back to work following this year’s unprecedented 10-day Golden Week holiday on Tuesday — the first working day of the Reiwa Era.

Naoto Tokunaga, 24, showed up at his office near Tokyo Station 30 minutes earlier than usual because he was impatient to get there.

“Due to work, I could only take about half the holidays off,” he said. Even during his trip to Amami Oshima island with his girlfriend, he could not stop thinking about work, he said.

Now that the holiday is over, he said he “will work hard” to deal with backlogs.

Some parents had little time to rest over Golden Week, which was extended to 10 days because of Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1.

A 37-year-old worker in Tokyo said her husband went on a business trip during the second half of the holidays, so she had to look after her two children — a first-grader and a two-year-old — by herself. Because the children’s activity center her kids attend was closed during the holidays, the mother said she had to take her children to a park every day.

“The 10 consecutive days off were too long. I’m relieved that it’s over,” she said.

Health experts have warned that the unusually long Golden Week could prompt new students and employees who enrolled at schools or joined a company in April to suffer from gogatsubyō, literally translated as May disease, when the holidays end. Symptoms include depression and strong anxiety often developed as a result of being unable to adapt to a new environment after a long holiday.

ChildLine, which offers a free help line providing mental health advice, among other things, for children 18 years old and under, made the service available in all prefectures daily between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. during Golden Week.

Because of the long break, banks had been concerned over possible problems with their systems and long queues at branches because credit card payments and other transactions were likely to be concentrated on Tuesday. An official of a major bank said there have so far been no reports of system glitches nor congestion at counters.

Internet-based Rakuten Bank said that its clients are experiencing difficulty logging in to their accounts on its website. The bank was looking into possible causes, including a potential system failure, but said a spike in traffic could be to blame.

It said it is not experiencing any issues with transactions made at its ATMs.

At Osaka’s Chuo Ward office, more than 10 people were waiting in line before it opened at 9 a.m. Takara Tanaka, 65, said he returned to Japan in late April from Malaysia, where he had been transferred for work, and was at a loss because he could not create an insurance card during Golden Week.

Official documents featuring the new era name were issued at government offices.

At the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, an official said it would take a while for him to get used to seeing administrative documents printed with Reiwa.