Public Holidays

Public Holidays

If you are looking for a list of public holidays make sure to check online. Japan has many traditional holidays that will shut down the city, while others that you have in your homeland will not be observed. Before making the assumption that any will be celebrated, it is best to find out for sure. You wouldn’t want to be caught unprepared, so it is best to know before you head out on your travels.

New Year’s Eve 【Omisoka】 (Dec 31) / New Year【Shinnen】 (Jan 1)

Description Perhaps one of the biggest festivals held in Japan is the New Year’s Eve celebration. It is a time when there are fireworks, white nights and a carnival. If you are lucky enough to be visiting during the time of New Year’s Eve it is an experience that you definitely don’t want to miss. The city comes alive with excitement and millions of people looking to celebrate the passing of one year and the welcoming of another.

Seijin no Hi(the 2nd Monday of January)

Description Seijin no hi is a day of coming to age for the Japanese youth. It is a festival that is held on the second Monday in January each year. Held for anyone who has reached the age of 20 years old it is a day when they are considered to become an adult in the eyes of the culture. It is a coming out party for the Japanese youth that is followed by great festivities and after parties.

Kenkoku Kinenbi - Foundation Day(Feb,11)

Description This national holiday was created to celebrate the foundation of Japan and the accession of Emperor Jimmu, Japan’s first Emperor. Originally this day was considered one of four major holidays and celebrated with large festivals and parades. At the end of World War II it stopped being celebrated until 1966, when it was re-established and is a day to express patriotism and love of Japan although it is still a controversial holiday.

Shunbun no Hi - Vernal Equinox Day (March 20)

Description This Japanese public holiday is a celebration of living. This is the day when night and day are of equal length. Following this day, the days gradually grow longer and the nights shorter. Visits are made to the family cemetery and ritual offerings of food and sake are made. Another custom is the offering of Ohagi to friends and neighbors and is a ball of soft rice covered with sweetened bean paste.

Showa no Hi - Showa Day (April 29)

Description This holiday is a day for remembering the Showa era (1926 ? 1989) when the Japanese worked hard rebuilding their country and wishing for a bright future. It honors the Showa Emperor’s (Hirohito) Birthday and the official purpose of this holiday to encourage reflection on Hirohito’s 63 year reign and to think about the country’s future. This holiday is also the start of what is termed the Golden Week.

KenpouKinenbi - Constitution Memorial Day (May 3)

Description This national holiday in Japan is a celebration of the official public declaration of the Japanese 1947 Constitution. This day is the second holiday in the Golden Week, which includes four holidays. It is a day to reflect on the Japanese government and the meaning of democracy. People can attend lectures on the role played by the Constitution over the last 50 years and there are ceremonies around the country.

MIdori no Hi - Greenery Day (May 4)

Description Another holiday in the Japanese Golden Week, this day is similar to Earth Day in that it is a celebration of nature. It is a day for activities such as planting trees and visiting parks. The day was originally to celebrate Emperor Showa’s Birthday but was changed to Greenery Day in 1989 with Emperor Akihito’s ascension to the throne. The renamed Greenery Day acknowledges the love of plants the controversial wartime emperor had without mentioning his name.

Kodomo no Hi - Children’s Day (May 5)

Description Designated as a public holiday in 1948 by the Japanese government, this day is a celebration of children, their personalities and happiness, although it has been a celebration for centuries. To celebrate, events with the focus on children are held throughout the country. Traditionally served on this day are Kashiwas-mochi, which are rice cakes filled with sweet bean paste and wrapped in Oak leaves.

Umi no Hi - Marine Day (the 3rd Monday of July)

Description This national holiday, also known as Sea Day or Ocean Day, is a celebration of thanks for the bounty from the sea and the important role of the ocean to the island nation of Japan. The weather is usually good as it is summer and many people take advantage of the holiday by taking a beach trip to celebrate, Other festivities that are ocean-related are also observed.

Keiro no Hi - Respect for the Aged Day (the 3rd Monday of September)

Description This annual Japanese holiday is a celebration to honor its elderly citizens and longevity. Volunteers in many neighborhoods distribute obento boxed lunches to the elderly in their area. In smaller villages keirokai shows are often held. School children and younger people perform songs and dances for the elderly attendees to watch and after the keirokai ceremony the elderly are treated to a lunch with tea and sweets.

Shubun no Hi - Autumnal Equinox Day (September 22 or 23)

Description The Autumnal Equinox Day is a holiday celebrating the end of summer and beginning of autumn where the daylight hours and nighttime hours are equal. The day marks the beginning of the decent into winter. It is also a time where families visit their ancestors’ graves and give thanks. A visit to the family grave usually involves cleaning the tombstone, offerings of flowers and food like ohagi, praying and burning incense.

Taiiku no Hi - Health and Sports Day (the second Monday in October)

Description This holiday promotes healthy bodies and minds through physical activity. It was originally established in commemoration of Tokyo hosting the 1964 Olympic Games. Many schools and businesses use this day to hold their annual sports days, and events can range from the normal running races and the long jump, to less common events such as a tug of war and sack races.

Bunka no Hi - Cultural Day (Nov3)

Description This public holiday is to celebrate academic, artistic and cultural endeavors. Types of events that are typically held are parades, art exhibitions and festivals. There is also an award ceremony where the Emperor himself hands out the prized Order of Culture award. This prestigious award is not just given to Japanese citizens and has been awarded to people like the Apollo 11 astronauts after returning from the moon.

Kinrokansha no Hi - Labor Thanksgiving Day (Nov23)

Description This holiday is to commemorate and celebrate production and labor. Events are held throughout Japan to encourage people to think about human rights, peace and the environment. This holiday is actually a modernized version of a very old festival called Niinamesai oe “Harvest Festival”. During the ritual for this festival, the Emperor makes an offering of the first freshly harvested rice to the gods and then eats some himself.

TennoTanjobi -The Emperor's Birthday(Dec 23)

Description This National Holiday is celebrated on the reigning Emperor’s Birthday, at present, Emperor Akihito who was born on 23rd December in 1933. A public ceremony takes place at the Imperial Palace where the palace gates are opened to the public. The Emperor and family will came out onto the balcony and wave to the crowd of well-wishers. This is one of only two occasions where the inner grounds of the Imperial Palace are open to the public.

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