National Public Holiday Celebrations in Japan
An overview of which public holidays are celebrated in Japan, and why...
New Year Holiday (January 1)
The New Year (Shogatsu or Oshogatsu) holiday is a time for families to spend together. It is considered the most important holiday in Japan, and almost all businesses are closed from January 1 to January 3. Features of the holiday include “year forgetting parties” (bonekenai parties), watching the sun rise, visiting shrines, and traditional games such as hanetsuki and karuta.
Coming of Age Day (second Monday of January)
Held every second Monday of the month of January, Coming of Age Day (Seijin no hi) marks the passage into adulthood of those whose twentieth birthday falls between April 2 of the previous year and April 2 of the current year. Twenty is the age at which young adults are entitled to vote, drink and smoke.
National Foundation Day (February 11)
The National Foundation Day (Kenkoku kinenbi) occurs every February 11. It is a day for commemorating the country’s founders, and aims to instill a sense of patriotic pride.
Vernal Equinox (usually March 20 or 21)
The Vernal Equinox, technically the first day of the year in which the hours of daylight and nighttime are almost the same, is a national holiday in Japan. The date is not officially decided until February of the previous year.
Showa Day (April 29, part of Golden Week)
This is an annual holiday held on April 29 and signifies the start of Golden Week. It used to be celebrated as the birthday of Emperor Hirohito, now posthumously called Emperor Showa.
Constitution Memorial Day (May 3, part of Golden Week)
This holiday commemorates the promulgation of the Constitution of Japan on May 3, 1947. The present Constitution upholds fundamental human rights, rejects war and establishes the emperor as a "symbol of the state and the unity of the people" who does not wield any powers related to government.
Greenery Day (May 4, part of Golden Week)
Greenery Day, a day set aside to appreciate nature, is celebrated annually on May 4 and is part of the Golden Week Holidays. Tree planting ceremonies and events that signify the beauty of nature are held all over Japan.
Children's Day (May 5, part of Golden Week)
A holiday to celebrate the healthy growth and happiness of children, celebrated annually on May 5. Different traditional events are organised throughout Japan.
Sea Day (third Monday in July)
A holiday established in 1996 to celebrate the sea and Japan’s relationship with it. Many families mark the occasion with a day at the beach.
Respect for the Aged Day (every third Monday in September)
A national day established as a counterpart to Children’s Day, with the purpose of celebrating the longevity of Japan’s senior citizens as well as their contributions to society.
Autumn Equinox (usually September 22 or 23)
The Autumnal Equinox holiday, which typically occurs on September 22 or 23, is a day of commemoration for the dead based on Buddhist festivities.
Sports Day (second Monday in October)
National holiday in which children and adults participate in team sports to remember the importance of health. The date follows the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, held late in the year to avoid summer rainfall.
Culture Day (November 3)
A celebration of the arts in Japan, and the day on which the Order of Culture is awarded by the Emperor for outstanding contributions to the cultural life of Japan.
Labour Thanksgiving Day (November 23)
A national holiday devoted to giving thanks for labour and agriculture.
The Emperor’s Birthday (December 23)
Celebration of the birthday of Emperor Akihito, with celebrations and a public appearance by the emperor at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
- For a list of this year's public holiday dates in Japan, see the National Public Holiday Dates page, found on the left