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.
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.