Year 2004 - Heisei 16
|Holidays in: 2001 2002 2003 and 2005|
|January||- Jan 1 (Thursday) New Years's Day Gantan
(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 seasons 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 to do much business here.
|- Jan 12 (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 may never have worn a formal kimono before.
|February||- Feb 11 (Wednesday) National Foundation Day Kenkokukinen
no Hi (always on 11th)
Celebrates the founding of the Japanese nation. Once known (with rightest connotations) as Kigensetsu
|- Feb 14 (Saturday) Valentine's Day
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.
|March||- March 3 (Wednesday) 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 (Saturday) Shunbun no Hi (always on March 20
This is the Vernal Equinox (night/day are equal).
|April||- Apr 1 (Thursday)
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 (Thursday) Greenery Day Midori no Hi
(always April 29)
A day for environmentalists. Perhaps more importantly, this day marks the start of Golden Week. This week will see many companies running with less than their normal staff as individuals take off all or part of the week for holiday. A viewer of this page reminded us that this date is the birthday of the last emperor, Emperor Showa (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, which is filled with holidays and other excuses not to work. Environmentalism has become trendy, and the weather is great; so a new name for an old holiday.
|May||- May 1 (Saturday) 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 these days
|- May 3 (Monday) 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.
|- May 4 (Tuesday) People's Day Kokumin no Kyujitsu
(always May 4)
This is a new holiday from 1999.
|- May 5 (Wednesday) Children's Day Kodomo no Hi
(always the fifth day of the fifth month)
Traditionally this was Boy's Day. This marks the end of Golden Week
|- May 9 (Sunday) 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 20 (Monday) 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 the sales promotion.
|July||- Jul 7 (Wednesday) Tanabata (always seventh
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 http://www.aosara.com/articles/tanabata.htm
|- Jul 13-15 (Saturday-Monday) 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 19 (Monday) Marine Day Umi no Hi (always
This is a new holiday that started from 1997. With schools finally closed, this holiday can be thought to mark the start of the main Summer Holidays which will last till the end of August. (also called Maritime Day)
|August||- August 11 (Wednesday) Japan Surrendered and World War
Ended No 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. The war ended on
15. There are many 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 and foe.
|- Aug 13-15 (Friday-Sunday) 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.
|September||- Sep 11 (Saturday) 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 time.
|- Sep 20 (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. Businesses are expanding their products and services aimed at the growing seniors market. But, can the country prosper with so many senior citizens and a declining work force?
|- Sep 23 (Thursday) Autumnal Equinox Shunbun no Hi
(always on Sept 23)
Night and day are equal again.
|October||- Oct 11 (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 (late in the month) Probably
Not a holiday. Our exhibition of English books and magazines. Emphasis on what is published in English in Japan plus travel guides. Many publications that are seldom or never seen in the stores. Great for browsers and researchers. For more info click on INFORM2001. This event has been on hold the last couple years but we hope to have both online and on table in 2004.
|- Oct 31 (Sunday) Halloween
Not a holiday but the stores and TV are promoting it more each year. Chance to party.
|November||- Nov 3 (Wednesday) 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 (Monday) 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.
|- Nov 23 (Tuesday) Labor Thanksgiving Day Kinro Kansha
no Hi (always on Nov 23)
No, the Japanese do not eat a turkey dinner on this day. This is a rather badly timed day off.
|December||- Dec 23 (Thursday) 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 (Saturday) 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 merger 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 both. Santa Claus can easily adapt to Japan. Christmas music, both popular and classical, is popular, but Christ is not likely to have more than a minor role in this largely (nominally but instinctively) Buddhist country.
|- Dec 28 (Tuesday)
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 one day of rest.
- Newspaper delivery agents take a holiday one day per month. On that
day the newspapers are published and available at shops but are not
||Anywhere in Japan, your English daily
Bank Holidays - There are no
special bank holidays. Banks are generally open 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.,
Monday to Friday. They are closed, Saturday, Sunday and national
holidays. Bank cash machines are open longer hours, but not always.
"Convenience stores" usually have ATM machines. These are never free
but may offer cash service 24 hours a day every day. Online banking is
growing but is not yet full service and is rarely in English.
ATM machines usually do not accept foreign credit cards, but some do.
There is currently a trend for banks to remain open past 3:00 pm and
perhaps even early evening hours, but this is still rare.
There are thousands of festivals throughout Japan. Many many are in summer. It sometimes seems that every village or city block is having its own festival. Use your browser to search for the words "festival" and "japan", and you will find much information. The above table of holidays has been produced by Intercontinental Marketing Corp, Tokyo, Japan, booksellers, magazine subscription agents, publishers and information specialists. In making our own corrections we relied upon the calendar in the Japan Yellow Pages (English classified telephone directory) and several Japanese calendars such as http://www.lib.med.kyoto-u.ac.jp/calender.htm . Especially for kids but good for everybody is http://jin.jcic.or.jp/kidsweb/calendar/calendar.html
If you have a question, correction, or addition, send us an email . To learn more about us and what we sell, follow the links from http://imcbook.net/ . You may have to click several times but these pages usually load fast and you should have no trouble getting to a useful page. If you want to subscribe to an English magazine published in Japan click here and check out Kyoto Journal, Tokyo Journal, Kansai Time Out, Japan Inc, plus academic and technical journals, etc.
sure it is still there but there was a great anime calendar at http://ray-go.web.infoseek.co.jp/index.html.
For more on the Chinese zodiac that the Japanese also use, see http://chineseastrologyonline.com/2004.htm.
Japan and Asia travel guides TRAVEL BOOKSHOP TOKYO (partly in Japanese but mainly in English). This is on our Japanese website and is mainly for people in Japan.
is another English site with info on Japanese holidays