Although, the people of Japan celebrate several other holidays and festivals, there are over 15 declared national holidays in the country. The Public Holiday Law of 1948 establishes which occasions are declared a legal holiday. A provision of the law also established that when a national holiday lands on a Sunday, that holiday is moved to the next day as well as the provision that when a day is in between two holidays, that day should also become a holiday.
– The first of the national holidays of the year is the Japanese New Year. January 1st is a national holiday, celebrated by visitors gathering at Buddhist temples to watch the year’s first sunrise and the exchange of greeting cards. The celebration of new years typically lasts several days into January, although only January 1st is a national holiday. The 2nd Monday in January is also a national holiday in Japan, called Coming of Age Day. All people who are going to turn 20 during that year are celebrated on this day. The day is celebrated by cities and towns holding ceremonies, many of which serve alcoholic beverages, which is a privilege of adults.
– During the month of February, National Foundation Day is celebrated. This day is meant to reflect on the founding of the nation and to focus on the love one has for its country. It is celebrated on February 11th.
– The Vernal Equinox is a national holiday meant for the admiration of nature and the love of living things. During this time, many people visit the graves of their ancestors, washing the tombstones, cleaning the areas, and offering flowers. The day is celebrated on or around March 21st, the day of the vernal equinox.
– Greenery Day, which marks the start of Golden Week, a week of holidays is celebrated on April 29th. The day is established as a day for friendship with nature and appreciation for its blessings.
– On May 3rd, Constitution Memorial Day is celebrated, commemorating the date on which Japan’s postwar constitution took effect. The Macarthur Constitution replaced Japan’s old constitution in 1947 and this day became a national holiday the year after. Constitution Memorial Day falls during Golden Week. May 4th is declared a holiday, simply because it falls between two other national holidays, however starting in 2007, Greenery Day will be celebrated on May 4th. Children’s Day, May 5th, marks the end of Golden Week. Previously known as Boys’ Festival, this holiday is now an occasion to respect the rights of all children, to plan for their happiness, and to give thanks to their mothers.
– Marine Day, celebrated on the third Monday in July is a national holiday established as a day of appreciation for the oceans and for hoping for the prosperity of the maritime nation that Japan is.
– Respect for the Aged Day celebrated on the third Monday of September is a national holiday that traces its origins back to 1947. Annually, Japanese media take the opportunity to feature the elderly, reporting the population and highlighting the oldest people in the country. Also, the Autumnal Equinox is celebrated on or around September 23rd, and has similar significance as the Vernal Equinox.
– The second Monday of October is set aside as Health and Sports Day and is a national holiday in Japan. The day is reserved for enjoying sports and cultivating a healthy mind and body. It was created in 1966 on the anniversary of the opening day of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
– Culture Day is celebrated on November 3rd and commemorates the adoption of the constitution. Prior to WWII, this day was reserved for the birthday of Emperor Meiji. Labor Thanksgiving Day, celebrated on November 23rd, is a national holiday as well. It is an occasion for honoring labor and production and giving one another thanks. It became an official holiday in 1948, although earlier it was celebrated as a harvest festival.
– December 23rd is the current emperor’s date of birth and is a national holiday. Emperor Akihito was born on this date in 1933, and as a result, the Imperial Palace of Tokyo is open to the public on this date and hundred of thousands of well -wishers wave flags in honor of the occasion.
Other Holidays in Japan
The people of Japan also celebrate numerous holidays that are not declared as national or legal holidays. Some of these are exclusive to Japan, while others are celebrated around the world in similar ways. Setsubun, a traditional Japanese holiday marking the beginning of spring, is celebrated on February 3rd. While not a national holiday, it inherits traditions peculiar to the season. These include the throwing of beans, which entails throwing roasted beans out from the house crying, “Out with the devils, in with good fortune.” Each person also eats a number of beans according to his or her age. Recently, the Japanese have begun using peanuts as the beans. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Japan on February 14th. The celebrations differ however, from other countries with women giving chocolates to their special men and male coworkers, rather than vice versa. Hinamatsuri, the traditional Girls’ Festival, takes place on March 3rd. Girls display a set of dolls dressed in costumes of courtiers from the Heian period. These dolls are often passed down from generation to generation. According to an old wives’ tale, a girl who leaves her dolls on display after this holiday will be late to marry. On March 14th, the Japanese celebrate White Day, which is a Japanese twist on Valentines Day where a man buys his special woman a treat. The Flower Festival takes place on April 8th, and is a celebration of Buddha’s birthday. Children traditionally drink ama-cha, a beverage prepared from a variety of hydrangea. This beverage is also often poured on statues of Buddha. Christmas, although not a national holiday, is very popular in Japan. Many traditionally Western symbols, such as carols, Santa Claus and strings of lights have become part of the celebration. In addition, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is popular during Christmas and the following week.