Top 6 Festivals and Celebrations in Japan

What holidays are celebrated in japan?

Japanese Customs / June 29, 2017

Japan has thirteen public holidays (marked with ▲) and a lot of nation-wide as well as local festivals. Find a short description of the public holidays and the most common nation-wide festivals below.

In 1998 and in 2001 Japan amended its laws in order to to move a number of public holidays in Japan to Mondays, creating a three-day weekend for those who normally have a five-day work week. It is called the Happy Monday System (ハッピーマンデー制度 Happī Mandē Seido).

List of Japanese holidays

■ January 1: 元日 (Ganjitsu, New Year’s Day)

Marks the beginning of the New Year season (正月 shōgatsu). Usually, offices and shops are closed from December 29 to January 3. Nowadays, department stores and supermarkets are open during the o-shōgatsu holidays. Japanese celebrate the New Year holidays with their families, thus public transportation tends to be extremely crowded. Traditionally, people prepare o-setchi ryouri (お節料理), dishes that are only eaten during the New Year holidays.

■ 2nd Monday in January: 成人の日 (Seijin no hi, Adult’s Day) ▲

Coming of age ceremony for people who have turned 20 years old during the year. Cities and towns hold public celebrations to mark the age of maturity (20 in Japan). Young people dress up formally, and girls don colourful kimono to mark the day. Until 2000, it was held on January 15, but with the introduction of the “Happy Monday System” it was changed to the 2nd Monday of January.

Literally the the “seasonal divide”, spring setsubun is also called risshun (立春) and part of the Spring Festival (春祭 haru matsuri). Japanese perform a ritual called mamemaki (豆まき, “bean-throwing”), conducted at people’s homes or in temples and shrines in order to expel evil spirits and disease by throwing beans outside their house and exclaiming: 鬼は外! 福は内! (Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!), which translates as “Demons out, luck in!” The number of beans thrown (and subsequently eaten) usually corresponds to a person’s age.

■ February 11: 建国記念の日 (Kenkoku kinen no hi, Foundation Day) ▲
Established in 1966, it is meant to commemorate the national foundation of Japan and to foster patriotism in Japanese.

■ February 14: バレンタインデー (Valentine’s Day)

Introduced in Japan in 1936 and popularized in the 1950s, it is the day when Japanese women offer chocolate to men. Giri-choko (義理チョコ) is given by female employees to their male counterparts (giri 義理 meaning “obligation”), while tomo-choko (友チョコ) and honmei-choko (本命チョコ) is reserved for friends, respectively boyfriends and husbands. Men have to reciprocate twice or thrice (三倍返し, sanbai gaeshi, literally, “triple the return”) what they have received one moth later, on White Day.