|Holidays in: 2001
2005 2006 2007 ... 2009
||Jan 1 (Tuesday) New
Years's Day -
(always on Jan 1)
Most companies close from December 29 through January 3. January
4 is often the first (but nominal) day back to work. This is a time
when millions of Japanese return home for family reunions, hundreds of
thousands take trips overseas. This is one of the two major holiday
of the year. During most of December business seems to focus on
bonenkai (year ending parties) and then in early January
on shinnenkai (year starting parties). Count on the period
from December 15 through January 15 as a time when you may not be able
do much business here.
|Jan 14 (Monday) Coming
of Age Day -
Seijin no Hi
(always on second Monday)
This is the day when those who had their 20th birthday between April of
last year and March of this year celebrate coming of age. A
great day to see lots of pretty girls wearing beautiful kimono. In this
era most of these girls will need someone to help them dress as they
never have worn a formal kimono before.
||Feb 11 (Monday) National
Foundation Day -
no Hi (always on 11th)
Celebrates the founding of the Japanese nation. Once known (with
rightest connotations) as Kigensetsu
|Feb 14 (Friday) Valentine's
Valentine's Day is not a holiday, but the chocolate industry
has succeeded in convincing women that they must give a present of
chocolate to each man. Great for romance but onerous for the OL (office
lady) who works with many men.
||Mar 3 (Monday) Doll
Festival - Hina Matsuri
(always the third day of the third month)
Not a holiday, though it probably should be to give the girls parity
with the male emphasis of Childrens' Day in May.
|Mar 20 (Wednesday) Spring
Equinox - Shunbun no Hi (always on March 20
This is the Vernal Equinox (night/day are equal).
||Apr 1 (Tuesday)
Not a holiday. The new school year starts in April. Graduates go to
work at companies. Companies engage in a major shifting of staff from
job to job or office to office. Most companies start their business
year from April 1. And the government's budget year starts now.
|Apr 29 (Tuesday) Birthday of Showa Emperor - Showa
(always April 29)
This day marks
the start of Golden Week.
This entire week will see many
running with less than their normal staff as individuals take off all
or part of the week for holiday. The birthday of the last emperor,
(Hirohito). When he died, I guess nobody wanted to lose a holiday
especially the holiday that starts Golden Week, the period from April
29 through May 5, filled with holidays and other excuses not
to work. For several years this date was named "Midori no Hi" (Greenery
Day or Nature Day) but that holiday has now been moved to May 4.
||May 1 (Thursday) May
Day (always May 1)
This is not a bank holiday, but is a day for labor rallies. In the old
days the railroads stopped. Only the intrepid got to the office by
walking. Unfortunately there is no such excuse for skipping work
|May 3 (Saturday) Constitution
Memorial Day - Kempo
Kinenbi (always May 3)
Celebrates the post-war constitution of Japan. Provides a chance to
demonstrate for those who think that the constitution should be
changed. And for their opposite numbers who oppose any change. Japan's
American-influenced constitution contains Article 9 pledging that Japan
will never go to war again. Too idealistic or a great opportunity to
set an international example? Both the ruling party and main opposition
party appear to favor a new constitution eliminating or loosening
|May 4 (Sunday) Greenery
Day - Midori no Hi (was Peoples or Citizens Day) -
Kokumin no Kyujitsu
(always May 4)
A day for environmentalists.
This is a new holiday from 1999.
|May 5 (Monday) Children's
Day - Kodomo no Hi
(always the 5th day of the 5th month)
Traditionally this was Boy's Day. This marks the end of Golden Week
|May 6 (Tuesday) Holiday this year to make up for legal holiday that occured on Sunday.
|May 13 (Tuesday) Mother's
Day (always second Sunday
of May in U.S. tradition)
Not a holiday. Not traditional for Japanese but of growing importance
in today's Japan. More info here.
|Jun 15 (Sunday) Father's
Day (always third Sunday
of June in U.S. tradition)
Not a holiday. Finally father is beginning to gain some respect.
Another chance for sales promotion and necktie salesmen.
||Jul 7 (Monday) Tanabata
day of the seventh month)
Not a holiday. A reader complained that we had not listed this major
traditional folklore festival. A great excuse for stargazing
with a friend. One source for Tanabata info is here.
|Jul 13-15 (Sunday-Tuesday) Obon (Tokyo)
(always July 13-15)
Not a national holiday, but this is the period when Japanese
visit the graves of their ancestors. Tokyo celebrates this festival in
July. More info here.
|Jul 21 (Monday) Marine
Day - Umi no Hi
A new holiday that started from 1997. With schools finally
closed, this holiday can be thought to mark the start of the Summer
Holidays which will last till the end of August. (also called Maritime
|August 14 (Thursday) Japan
Surrendered and World War
national holiday in August. The summer holiday
season is at its peak during the middle of August. August 6 is the day
Hiroshima was A-bombed; Nagasaki was hit August 9. Japan accepted
unconditional surrender terms on
14. Formal surrender was on September 2 on battle ship Missouri. More
Each year there are anti-war rallies and meetings. Each year there is
controversy over visits by government leaders to the Yasukuni Shrine
that houses the memorials to the Japanese war dead including the
who were convicted for their war crimes. Today the world is again on
the edge of serious conflict, and Japan is being draw into it by both
friend, foe, and by some of its own traditionalists.
|Aug 13-15 (Wednesday-Friday) Obon
(always Aug 13-15)
Not a national holiday, but this is the period (Festival of Souls) when
Japanese traditionally visit the graves of their ancestors. Most people
will take a few days off from work around this time.
1 (Monday) Bosai no Hi
Not a holiday. I am not sure that there is a proper
English name for this day and the following week; so I will call it
"Disaster Day". Made especially meaningful since the 9-11 events, but
Japan has plenty to worry about in any case, especially earthquakes,
typhoons, volcanic eruptions, flooding, fire, and foreign gangsters.
Gives the police and fire departments a chance to show off their skills
and dedication. Every year there are ample disasters due to natural
manmade causes; so we have added this to the calendar.
|Sep 11 (Thursday) Terrorists
attacked World Center in
New York on this day in 2001
An event that is having profound impact on Japan. Not a holiday, but
this day will be remembered for a long long time.
|Sep 15 (Monday) Respect
for the Aged Day - Keiro no Hi
The television stars on this day are those who are over 100 years old.
Some are in remarkably good health. If you are 70 or over, an official
from the local city office may visit you and present a small gift. It
pays to live long in Japan. Businesses are expanding their products and services
aimed at the growing seniors market. But, can the country prosper with
so many seniors and a declining work force? It has been
estimated that there will be only a few dozen Japanese remaining in the
future due to declining birthrate.
|Sep 23 (Tuesday) Autumnal
Equinox - Shunbun no Hi
(always on Sept 23)
Night and day are equal again.
||Oct 13 (Monday) Sports
Day - Taiku no Hi
(always on second Monday)
Parents all over Japan will be going to athletic events at their
children's schools. Japan is trying to internationalize its population,
and international sports are one of the tools the government uses to
broaden people's minds.
|Oct 31 (Friday) Halloween
Not a holiday but the stores and TV are promoting it more each year.
Chance to party.
||Nov 3 (Monday) Culture
Day - Bunka no Hi
(always on Nov 3)
Somehow they always forget to give me a culture prize on this day. (more)
|Nov 15 (Saturday) Shichi-Go-San
Festival (always Nov
Shichi = 7, Go = 5, San = 3. Not a holiday but a traditional
festival. Especially for boys age 5 and girls ages 3 and 7. A chance
for parents to dress these children in kimono. One gets the feeling
that the kimono is making a strong comeback vs dresses and jeans,
especially for formal occasions, festivals and other show-off
|Nov 23 (Sunday) Labor
Thanksgiving Day - Kinro
no Hi (always on Nov 23)
No, the Japanese do not eat a turkey dinner on this day.
|Nov 24 (Monday) Substitute holiday as Sunday was legal holiday.
||Dec 23 (Tuesday) Emperor's
Birthday - Tenno Tanjobi
(always on Dec 23)
This is the current Emperor's birthday. His reign has been named
Heisei (Succeed at Peace). The number after Heisei
(at top of this page) indicates the year of his reign.
|Dec 25 (Thursday) Christmas
This is not a legal holiday, not a family holiday, but children expect
presents. The stores
milk this day for all they can, and then make a quick switch
to New Year gifts. Christmas lights and trees are becoming popular and
are often mixed with the traditional New Year decorations which also
include tree decorations. It is quite possible to imagine a total
of New Year/Christmas. Green tree decorations, sending cards and giving
gifts to friends and relatives, special foods, and a once-a-year rest
from work and rekindling of family relations ... these are common to
Santa Claus can easily adapt to Japan. Christmas music, both popular
classical, is popular, but Christ is not likely to have more than a
role in this largely (nominally but instinctively) Buddhist
|Dec 29 (Monday)
Not a holiday, but, if it falls on a weekday, this is usually the last
working day of the year for office workers. Little serious work
is done. The doors will open again about one week later. The big
exception is the retail industry which hardly takes a moment of rest.