Holiday’s in Japan

When visiting Japan, you should be aware of the various holidays spread through out the year. Only a few holidays in the calendar year are the same as most western countries starting with New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Day 

New Year’s Day is January 1st and a public holiday in all countries that follow the Gregorian calendar. Israel is the only country that follows the Gregorian calendar but with Jewish belief, has their Rosh Hashana (New Year) 163 days after the first day of passover. Sept 10, 2018 will be their New Year this year. In Japan it is widely practiced to spend time with families and visit temples/shrines on this day.

Coming of Age Day 

The Coming of Age festival (Seijin no Hi) is celebrated on the second Monday in January and celebrates those that will become 20 years of age during the year. In turning 20 you are considered an adult and with that can vote and legally drink.

Women dress up in special kimonos with long sleeves to represent this celebration as regular kimonos come with shorter more regular style sleeves. Men on the other hand usually wear business suits, but there are still those that choose to wear a dark colored kimono at times. Coming of age day started in 1948 and was always celebrated on January 15th untill 1999 when Japan changed it to the 2nd Monday.


National Foundation Day

National Foundation Day is 11 February. It is a holiday for people to remember the founding of the nation and to remind themselves their love for Japan. The following day is usually an observed day or public holiday.

It is told that Emperor Jimmu founded Japan in 660 BC and followed the traditional Japanese calendar (a lunar based calendar) to the Gregorian calendar starting in January 1873. Emperor Jimmu who was the first in Japan took the throne on February 11 660 BC and was made a national holiday called Kigen-setsu.

Vernal Equinox

Vernal Equinox or spring equinox the beginning of astronomical spring. It is held towards the end of March between the 19th to the 21st each year. In Japanese it is called “Shunbun no Hi”. It basically marks the end of winter and the start of spring. Most Japanese celebrate this holiday by family get togethers and/or visiting past relatives graves to give thanks.

Showa Day

Showa Day honours the birthday of Emperor Hirohito, the reigning Emperor of Japan. Emperor Hirohito was the emperor from 1926 – 1989. The holiday is held on April 29th of each year and ties into the “Golden Week” holidays. In Japanese it is called Showa no Hi.

Traditionally, each Emperor’s birthday is celebrated as a holiday and withhis passing in January 1989 it was no loner celebrated. They changed it to “Greenery Day” and for many years they seeked to change it to Showa no Hi. Finally in 2005 April 29th became Showa no Hi and Greenery day was moved to May 4th which is all apart of the Golden Week holidays in Japan.

Constitution Memorial Day

Constitution Memorial day is also called Constitution day. It was constitution of Japan was founded on May 3, 1947. In Japanese it is called “Kenpo kinenbi” and is the 2nd holiday as part of Golden Week.

Japan’s  present Constitution declares that sovereignty lies with the people. The Emperor is “the symbol of the state and the unity of the people” but also has no power when it comes to government control.

Greenery Day or Arbor Day

An interesting fact about this day is that with the Japanese law, it is written that if there is a day between two holidays it too will become a holiday. Up until January 1989 Greenery day was April 29th when it was replaced with Showa day. Until 2007 Greenery Day was known as the “In between day” and was a non-holiday.

Greenery Day was established to Emperor Hirohito’s  love for plants and nature. Greenery day is the 3rd day in during the Golden Week. In Japanese is is called ‘Midori no Hi’.

Children’s Day

Children’s day is celebrated on May 5th. The 5th day of the 5th month.For the future success of their sons, families pray for their health and hang up carp streamers and displaying samurai dolls, both symbolizing strength, power and success in life.

Due to having a girls day “Hinamatsuri”on March 3rd (now Constitution Day) and Boy’s day (May 5th) the government in 1948 changed this to be Children’s Day to gives thanks to all mothers and to celebrate the happiness of their children. Children’s day is also the last holiday in the Golden week time.

In the 1st six months of the calendar year, June is the only month with no holiday.


Next up: Holidays in Japan – Are they so different from Western Culture? pt 2 July – December


Tokyo Drew