Japan Public Holidays

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Japan Holidays

In Japan, the people have a calendar that marks the special holidays and local observances. The following holidays are the major holidays which are contained in the Japan Calendar :

New Year’s Day

Like most nations, Japan starts off with a New Year also known as 元日 [ Ganjitsu ] in the Japanese language. The New Year is on 1 January. The first New Year was observed in 1948.The New Year holidays are the unofficial holidays because they are not directed by the government or the law.However, it is a normal procedure for companies to shut down their offices during this period. The New Year celebrations start on the 29th of December and end on the 3rd of January where after most citizens return to work. The Imperial Leader of Japan has a traditional ceremony at the end of each year where the public is invited to the Palace grounds.

Coming of the Age Day

The next holiday after New Year is the Coming of the Age Day holiday also known as 成人の日 [ Seijin no Hi ] in Japanese. This holiday is held on the second week of January on a Monday. This is a unique and traditional holiday that dates back to 1948.On this holiday, it’s like a birthday celebration for everyone who has turned 20 years of age. The Japanese celebrate maturity into adulthood as part of their culture. Young people are encouraged to be responsible. Celebrations are held for these young people by the local authorities all over the country.

Foundation Day

The next holiday after Seijin no Hi is the Foundation Day also known as  建国記念の日 [ Kenkoku Kinen no Hi ] in Japanese. On this day of 11 February, the founding of the nation is observed. People show love for their motherland. This holiday has been on the national calendar since 1966.Between 1872 and 1948,this day used to be a commemoration for Emperor Jimmu’s ascendance to power in the year 660 BC.The holiday was called Kigen-setsu [ 紀元節? ] during the time.

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Vernal Equinox Day

The Vernal Equinox Day also known as 春分の日 Shunbun no Hi is celebrated on 20 March. It is the day of nature and life. It has been on the calendar since 1948.Before 1948, the holiday was known as Shunki kōrei-sai  春季皇霊祭  a day to worship the ancestors by the Imperial Family.

Showa Day

Showa Day also known as 昭和の日 Shōwa no Hi in Japanese is celebrated on 29 April. This holiday celebrates the reign of Emperor Showa as well as his birthday which occurred on this day. The holiday has been observed since 2007, seventeen years after the death of Emperor Showa died in 1989.Before 2007, the holiday was known as Greenery Day. While Showa Day honors Emperor Showa, Greenery Day is an entirely different holiday on its own which is now celebrated on the 4th of May.

The next holiday after Showa Day is the Constitution Memorial Day, observed on the 3rd of May. The holiday is known as 憲法記念日 Kenpō Kinenbi in Japanese. This day is of great significance because it commemorates the establishment of the Japan constitution after the World Wars. Constitution Day has been celebrated since 1948.

Greenery Day

After the Constitution Memorial holiday comes the Greenery Day also known as みどりの日 Midori no Hi in Japanese. This is observed on 4 May each year. On this day, the importance of nature and the blessings it bestows upon the people is celebrated. The holiday has been in effect since 1989. Before 2007, it was held on the 29th of April. In 2007, the dates for Greenery Day and Showa Day were swapped.

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Children’s Day

May 5 is Children’s Day also known as こどもの日 Kodomo no Hi in Japanese. The holiday has been celebrated since 1948.The Children’s future, their growth and personalities is the main focus. A Festival is held for families with boys.Koi streamers are flown and decorations are made at home.

Marine Day

Marine Day, also known as 海の日 Umi no Hi is held on a third Monday in the month of July. The holiday has been celebrated since 1995 to give thanks for the marine resources that this island country possesses. The holiday used to be celebrated on the 20th of July but it was moved to the third week of July in 2003.

Respect for the Aged Day

In Japan, older people are respected for their wisdom and guidance. The Respect for the Aged holiday also known as 敬老の日 Keirō no Hi is held on the third week (Monday) of September. Long life is celebrated and the elderly are honored for their wisdom.

Autumnal Equinox Day

The Autumnal Equinox Day also known as 秋分の日 Shūbun no Hi in the local language, is held on 23 September. This is the day to commemorate the dead and to honor the ancestors. The holiday has been on the calendar since 1948.Before 1948, the holiday was known as Shūki kōrei-sai 秋季皇霊祭  the day when the Imperial Family worshipped their ancestors.

Health and Sports Day

The next holiday is the Health and Sports Day also known as 体育の日 Taiiku no Hi.It is celebrated on the second Monday of October. As the name suggests, this is a day for sports, recreation and extra-mural activities. The health of the body and mind is emphasized. The holiday started as a celebration of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics before it was changed to its current focus in 2000.

Culture Day

Culture Day also known as 文化の日 Bunka no Hi is celebrated on 3 November. It commenced in 1948 as a commemoration of the establishment of the constitution of Japan. The importance of peace, freedom and cultural promotion is the main focus on this day. During the Imperial reign, Emperor Meiji’s birthday was celebrated on this day. It was then known as Meiji-setsu  明治節

Labor Thanksgiving Day

Labor Thanksgiving Day also known as 勤労感謝の日 Kinrō Kansha no Hi in Japanese, comes on the 23rd of November. Hard work and labor is celebrated on this day. It is a day of thanks giving. The role of productivity in the development of the economy is recognized. During the Imperial rule before 1948, the Niiname-sai Festival also known as 新嘗祭 was held on this day.

Emperor’s Birthday

The Japan calendar ends with the ruling Emperor’s Birthday, also known as 天皇誕生日 Tennō Tanjōbi in Japanese language. The current Emperor’s birthday is on 23 December. It has been a traditional practice in Japan to celebrate the reigning Emperor’s birthday. This tradition has been in existence since 1868.The ruling Emperor was born on 23 December in 1933.The Emperor Birthday’s holiday used to be known by another name – Tenchō-setsu  天長節 before it was renamed to  its current name in 1948.


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