Public holidays in Japan: dates and meaning

National holidays in Japan

Holidays in Japan are unique, spectacular occasions which visitors, as well as locals, can enjoy. However, they are also very busy times of the year so travelers should expect crowds on Japan’s transportation system and higher prices for accommodation.

Visitors should also be aware that events such as the Obon Festival, the cherry blossom season, Golden Week, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are also very busy times of year to visit Japan. People catching Shinkansen bullet trains should make early reservations during these periods when possible.

Public Holidays in Japan

  • New Year’s Day: Families gather to see in the new year and businesses shut down from January 1 to January 3. People throw bonenkai parties (“forgetting parties”) to symbolize leaving behind last year’s problems and making a fresh start.
  • Coming of Age Day: Coming of Age Day is held on the second Monday of January. It is held to congratulate all the young people who have turned 20 between April 2 of the previous year and April 1 of the current year (the age will be lowered to 18 in 2022). Special ceremonies are held nationwide.
  • National Foundation Day: February 11 marks National Foundation Day and it is a nationwide celebration of patriotism. The celebrations are fairly lowkey though there are some events in Tokyo and the other big cities.
  • Showa Day: Showa Day is held on April 29 and it honors the birthday of Emperor Showa (Hirohito). Showa means “bright peace” in Japanese and it symbolizes the era of his reign.
  • Constitution Memorial Day: May 3 marks the Constitution Memorial Day. It is part of Golden Week and celebrates the 1947 Constitution of Japan which came into effect a couple of years after the end of World War II.
  • Greenery Day: It is celebrated on May 4 of each year and is dedicated to the contemplation of nature. This day is part of Golden Week. Until 2006, the celebration was held on April 29, but since 2007 it became Shōwa Day in honor of the emperor who reigned in Japan for 62 years and particularly during World War II.
  • Children’s Day: Children’s Day takes place on May 5 and marks the end of Golden Week. It is an ancient celebration which respects the happiness and personalities of children. Families play with traditional toys and eat special types of cakes.
  • Marine Day: Marine Day (also known as Sea Day) takes place on the third Monday of July. The holiday celebrates the sea and its importance to Japan as it is an island nation. Many local people take advantage of this day to enjoy the beach.
  • Mountain Day: Mountain Day is celebrated on August 11. It is Japan’s newest holiday as it was only introduced in 2014. The day gives people the chance to enjoy Japan’s stunning mountains by going hiking and enjoying other activities.
  • Respect for the Aged Day: Respect for the Aged Day is held to honor Japan’s elderly citizens. It is held on the third Monday of September. The day was introduced in 1966 and the media often use the day as an opportunity the highlight the country’s oldest people.
  • Health and Sports Day: The second Monday of October is Health and Sports Day. It commemorates the opening of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games and promotes sports and living an active lifestyle.
  • Culture Day: Culture Day promotes the arts and learning and it takes place on November 3. Typical activities include exhibitions, parades, and award ceremonies for distinguished artists and scholars.
  • Labor Thanksgiving Day: Labor Thanksgiving Day is held on November 23. Events are held throughout the country including the Nagano Labor Festival which encourages people to think about the environment, peace and human rights.

Japanese firewokrs during holidays, Tokyo

Japanese holidays calendar for 2019

January 2019
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031
February 2019
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
2425262728
March 2019
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31

 

April 2019
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930
May 2019
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031

 

June 2019
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30
July 2019
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031
August 2019
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

 

September 2019
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930
October 2019
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031
November 2019
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

 

December 2019
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031
  • Golden Week 2019

Japanese holidays in 2019

The list below is accurate for national holidays in Japan for 2019:

  • New Year’s Day – January 1
  • Coming of Age Day – January 14
  • National Foundation Day – February 11
  • Vernal Equinox Day – March 21 (this holiday may vary between March 20 and March 21)
  • Showa Day – April 29 (First holiday of Golden Week)
  • Emperor Akihito’s Abdication – April 30
  • Emperor Naruhito’s Ascension to the Throne – May 1
  • Extra holiday to celebrate the transition of the Emperor Naruhito – May 2 (This day allows the 10-day Golden Week)
  • Constitution Memorial Day – May 3
  • Greenery Day – May 4
  • Children’s Day – May 6 (it’s actually day 5, but it moves to Monday as it falls on Sunday)
  • Sea Day or Marine Day – July 15 (third Monday of July)
  • Mountain Day – August 12 (it’s actually day 11, but it moves to Monday as it falls on Sunday)
  • Respect for the Aged Day – September 16 (third Monday of September)
  • Autumnal Equinox Day – September 23 (this holiday may vary between September 23 and September 24)
  • Sports Day – October 14 (second Monday of October)
  • Emperor Naruhito’s Enthronement Ceremony – October 22
  • Culture Day  – November 4 (it’s actually day 3, but it moves to Monday as it falls on Sunday)
  • Labor Thanksgiving Day – November 23

Bon Odori paper lanterns

Japanese holidays in 2020

  • New Year’s Day – January 1
  • Coming of Age Day – January 13
  • Foundation Day – February 11
  • Emperor’s birthday – February 24 (it’s actually day 23, but it moves to Monday as it falls on Sunday)
  • Vernal Equinox Day – March 20
  • Showa Day – April 29
  • Constitution Day – May 3
  • Greenery Day – May 4
  • Children’s Day – May 6 (it’s actually day 5, but it moves to Monday as it falls on Sunday)
  • Sea Day or Marine Day – July 23
  • Sports Day – July 24
  • Mountain Day – August 10
  • Respect for the Aged Day – September 21
  • Autumnal Equinox Day – September 22
  • Culture Day – November 3
  • Labor Thanksgiving Day – November 23

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