The Japanese are known for their work ethic, but they have a tremendous amount of national holidays as well. If a holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is also recognized as a holiday. Additionally, if, somehow, a day is sandwiched between two holidays it will also be turned into a holiday. Take a look below for a brief overview of the nationally recognized Japanese holidays.
Coming of Age (seijin no hi):
This holiday is celebrated on the second Monday of January and celebrates young men and women who have turned 20 in the previous year. Those being celebrated usually dress up in their finest traditional attire, attend ceremonies and drink a lot of celebratory alcohol in the process. It’s a great day to be young.
National Foundation Day (kenkoku kinenbi) (February 11):
According to the earliest historical records in Japan, on February 11, 660 BC the first Japanese emperor Jimmu ascended to the Chrysantemum Throne. This marks the date of the foundation of the Japanese nation.
Vernal Equinox Day (shunbun no hi) (March 20 or 21):
While the entire world recognizes that the equinox exists and transitions us from one season to the next, Japan celebrates this day as a national holiday. The equinoxes are considered an occasion to worship ancestors as the buddhist believe that the border between the world of the living and the world of the dead becomes thinner than at any other point of the year. Graves of people no longer with us are frequently visited during the week of this holiday.
Showa Day (showa no hi) (April 29):
Showa Day commemorates the birthday of the Showa emperor, the longest serving monarch in recent Japanese history. Also known as Hirohito, the emperor sat on the Chrysantemum Throne from 1926 until his death in 1989. April 29, 1901 was his birthday. While Showa Day isn’t celebrated in a significant way, it marks the beginning of Golden Week.
While Golden Week isn’t technically a holiday, it is one of Japan’s busiest holiday seasons. The week contains four holiday starting with Showa Day and ending with Children’s Day.
Constitution Day (kenpo kinenbi) (May 3):
This holiday was established on May 3, 1947 the day the current Japanese constitution came into effect. The merits and demerits of the document it celebrates are often debated at this time.
Greenery Day (midori no hi) (May 4):
Day is a day for enjoying and giving thanks to nature. Many parks and gardens waive their fees for
Children’s Day (kodomo no hi) (May 5):
Children’s Day is one of Japan’s more historic holidays. Previously it was known as boys festival (with the girls being remembered in March), but has lost its gender formality and now wishes all children good luck on their journey to adulthood. The colorful carp streamers known as koinobori are flown, kashiwamochi rice cakes are eaten and enjoyed by all, and children in junior high or younger are often allowed in zoos and parks for free.
Marine Day (umi no hi):
Marine Day, often referred to as Ocean Day, is celebrated on the third Monday of July. The holiday is just what it sounds like, a day to recognize and celebrate the ocean and all it’s bounty. Many people flock to the beaches and enjoy a day in the sun.
Mountain Day (yama no hi) (August 11):
This day was first celebrated in 2016 and, again, is exactly what it sounds like. If Japan celebrates the forests and the sea, it seems only right that it also celebrate the mountains.
Respect for the Aged Day (keiro no hi):
This holiday is celebrated on the third Monday of September. Respect for the elderly and longevity are the focus of this holiday. Younger people will typically visit family or send flowers or cards to members of the elderly population.
Autumnal Equinox Day (shubun no hi) (September 22 or 23):
Similar to the Vernal Equinox Day. Many people visit the graves of their family.
Health and Sports Day (taiiku no hi):
This holiday used to be celebrated on October 10 to recognize the date of the opening ceremony for the first Tokyo Olympics but has since been moved to the second Monday of October. Most schools and organizations hold annual sports festival on or around this day.
Culture Day (bunka no hi) (November 3):
A day for promotion of culture and the love of freedom and peace. On culture day, schools and the government award selected persons for their special, cultural achievements. It’s a great holiday for people who enjoy the arts as the day is usually packed with education events and many museums waive or discount entrance fees. The day promotes culture as well as the love of freedom and peace.
Labor Thanksgiving Day (kinro kansha no hi) (November 23):
This holiday celebrates everyone who works. It was originally a harvest festival which is made evident by the fact that many of the days events are farming-related.
Emperor’s Birthday (tenno no tanjobi) (December 23):
The birthday of the current emperor is always a national holiday. The current emperor abdicates the throne in 2019 and there will be no holiday in 2019. The holiday will be celebrated on February 23 starting in 2020, which is the date of the new emperors birthday.
While the Japanese people are dedicated to their work, it seems that they know how to enjoy a little time off as well. Not only do they have an abundance of national holidays, but the holidays recognize nature and the people of the country as well.