HOLIDAYS IN JAPAN – July to December

Again we will look at 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. Today, we look at the second half of the year July to December.

Marine Day

Marine Day became a nationally recognized holiday in Japan in 1996. It is also known as Ocean Day, Sea Day and in Japanese ‘Umi no hi’.

Before 1996, it was known as Marine Memorial Day, and was not a national holiday. It is celebrated on the third Monday in  July. Originally it was celebrated on July 20th but was changed due to creating more long weekend holidays.

History documents Marine Memorial Day was established in 1941 to mark the anniversary in the 1876 return of the Meiji Emperor to the Port of Yokohama. He sailed aboard a two-masted topsail schooner Meiji-Maru which he at the time had been traveling along the Hokkaido area and back.

Mountain Day

This is one holiday I truly do not get. Mountain day is Japan’s newest holiday and was established in 2016. It is usually celebrated on August 11th, but if August 11th is a Sunday then it will be celebrated on Monday. Great! Another long weekend!

The government states that Mountain Day is intended to provide (and I quote) “opportunities to get familiar with mountains and appreciate blessings from mountains”. Ummm, ok? I am not really a mountain kind of guy nor do I hike up the damn things. With the Alpine club and being backed by a few other groups, they lobbied to get this bill passed. I do get that the Shinto beliefs with nature have shaped it’s culture, but to celebrate a mountain?

By the way, there is no right or wrong way to celebrate this day. I guess the best way is to grab some beers and go hiking.

Respect of the Aged Day

This national holiday is celebrated on the Third Monday in September and is also known as seniors day. In Japanese we call it “Keiro no Hi” which was established in 1966 to pay respect to the elders of the Japanese community. I like this holiday as it is a way to give back for all the contributions elders have made over the years to society.

To celebrate this day, many parties are thrown around communities with special gift offerings to honor long life. Anyone who is 100 years old during this holiday actually receive a silver sake dish from the government. Damn, can’t wait for the silver dish lol

Japan: Autumnal Equinox

Usually held on September 22, 23 or 24, the Autumnal Equinox is celebrated as a national holiday in Japan.This holiday is known as ‘Shubun-no-hi’ in Japanese. The exact day can vary due to astronomical observations so knowing the actual date each year is decided each spring. Autumnal Equinox Day was established as a national holiday in 1948.

So, what is Autumnal Equinox? From what I have researched it is when the sun crosses over the equator from the Northern to the Southern hemisphere.The sun rises exactly on the east and sets exactly in the west on this day, making day and night equal in length.After that,the days will begin to become shorter than nights in the Northern hemisphere which just means shorter BBQ time and relaxing in the backyard!

Health and Sports Day

Japan celebrates Health and Sports Day ‘Taiiku no Hi’ in Japanese on the second Monday in October. It’s aim is to promote sport and a active lifestyle all at the same time having a healthy mind and body set.

In celebration of this holiday, many Japanese schools, business and towns hold special Sports Day events including the three-legged race, beanbag toss, and tug-of-war.I have attended a few of these events which were a great sense of community feeling. Competing against other areas or communities in your city is an all day event.

My son has always loved sports day at school but as a parent there are a few things that can be bothersome – arriving early for the best seating and sitting in the hot son.


Japanese Culture Day

On 3 November each year, your colleagues in Japan celebrate Culture Day.Culture Day, otherwise known as “Bunka no hi” in Japanese is a day to honor traditional Japanese culture and promote love and peace that was enshrined in the Japanese constitution.

The celebration of Culture Day along with the Order of Culture Awards Ceremony which takes place at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, awards are given to those who have made great contributions to society.

Labor Thanksgiving Day

Labor Thanksgiving Day is a modern name for the ritual of Harvest Festival “Niinamesai” in Japanese. In the ritual, the Emperor makes the season’s first offering of freshly harvested rice to the gods and then eats the rice himself.

Celebrating this holiday, there are many ways people do things. Upon researching this holiday, I thought it was cool to mention that nursery school pupils present drawings and handicrafts to local police officers, who look after their safety every day.

I am also confused by the name of this holiday. Maybe due to being a foreigner and having separate holidays for Labor day and Thanksgiving? Either way, this holiday is truly well planned to give back to those in the labor force with a huge thank you of understanding.

Emperor’s Birthday

‘Tennou Tanjyobi’ in Japanese, this holiday is currently celebrated on 23 December. Now before I do go on with this holiday, 2018 is the last time it will be celebrated as Emperor Akihito is scheduled to abdicate on 30 April 2019. Crown Prince Naruhito’s birthday is on February 23rd and will instead become the date of the Emperor’s Birthday holiday from 2020. Ok? Get it?

So as you can see, if we compare holidays that we are used to as a foreigner things can be quite different here in Japan. It seems there is a lot of emphasis on “aged” days here in Japan celebrating people coming of age or getting old! lol With all these holidays, most people will get the days off from work thus creating many long weekends! Most holidays in Japan fall on a Monday.


Written by: Tokyo Drew

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