Public Holidays in Japan, time to celebrate the nature

Public Holidays in Japan, time to celebrate the nature

Originally written by Kriti Sachdev. Proofread and re-written by Yogi (Yogendra Puranik) on 08-Aug-2022.

When I came to Japan more than 8 years back, I was amazed to see the new things, and also the perspectives which were contrary to my home country, India.

I observed that Japan has national holidays for ‘Umi no hi’ (Day of the sea), ‘Shubun/Shunbun no hi’ (day of the equinox), ‘Hanami’ (an extended holiday for viewing cherry blossoms) etc. The whole country goes in huge crowds to appreciate and admire the nature, have family time together and with their near and dear ones to enjoy the nature, be it blooming of new flowers of the spring or be it changing colors of the fall leaves.

The government declares public holidays so that everyone gets equal opportunity for a common reason to celebrate - the nature. People celebrate by going to the beaches in huge numbers for a cooling swim in the sea with their near and dear ones, family, friends, colleagues and enjoy by having food and drinks together on Marine Day, people go on mountain climbs and hikes together on Mountain Day etc.

These holidays also help the nation to increase domestic consumption and hence keep the economy moving. While Japanese are known for their obsession towards international travel, the domestic travel industry is also no less. The countryside economy blooms in the holidays.

Natural events and nature remain common point of appreciation and admiration for everyone, irrespective of race, philosophical differences, belief systems etc. There is commonness amongst all living beings, and especially the humans that bind us together and that is Nature and the natural phenomenon.

Belief system of morality, faith, debates on existence of God etc. could be different for different individuals but all the humans irrespective of nationality, philosophical or religious belief, share the sense to appreciate and enjoy the rising sun, the moon, the twinkling stars, the water, the almighty nature, the flowers and always amazed by how the nature works so beautifully and so much in rhythm.

Celebration of the Universal experiences is also a practice of promoting peace in the society for we ignore the differences and enjoy the commonness. This could be a learning opportunity for us as to how can we find reasons to enjoy and celebrate on the points that “connects” us, irrespective of the differences of our faiths and beliefs.

Celebration of nature and natural phenomenon is also creating equality in the society. For example, there could be possibility where people of different opinions and belief system co-exist in the same family or are colleagues. But still, they cannot connect with each other and feel excluded from the mainstream. However, celebration of natural phenomenon is not only scientific and is not impacted by any bias or cannot be questioned for its authenticity as in case of beliefs as everyone is celebrating a common cause, which everyone can appreciate, admire and observe the same way and thus getting a “public holiday”, even at the individual level for the common cause, everyone will feel accepted and inclusive in the society.

The people in Japan start planning their holidays six months or one year ahead. This is because, as the holiday approaches the travel, rental cars and lodging costs reach the sky. A hotel room which would usually cost around 10,000 yens in off-season may cost you 100,000 yens a night. This inflation has further aggravated as the foreign travelers to Japan increased multifold, especially from China, during the last few years.

List of Japanese public holidays in the year 2022 is as follows. In recent years, there is a trend to set the holidays on Mondays so that people can enjoy extended weekends.

Date

Day

Holiday

Details

1-Jan

Sat

New Year's Day

Getting up early to observe the first sunrise of the year, annual “white glove” cleaning of the family home, giving small sums of money in an envelope to kids, and visiting the first shrine of the year on anywhere from the first to the third of January.

10-Jan

Mon

Coming of Age Day

Event to recognize the nation’s newest adults who reach legal adulthood between 2nd April of the previous year and 1st April of the current year

11-Feb

Fri

National Foundation Day

Celebrates the founding of Japan as a unified nation upon the beginning of the reign of Emperor Jimmu in 660 B.C.

23-Feb

Wed

The Emperor's Birthday

Honors the Emperor of Japan and the Chrysanthemum, a time for Japanese citizens to express their patriotism.

21-Mar

Mon

Vernal Equinox Day

The day will come on either 20 or 21 March since Japan lies in the northern hemisphere. Many visit the graves of their ancestors, clean, sweep, and decorate their tombs.

29-Apr

Fri

Shōwa Day

Honor the Showa emperor (reign 1926-1989) for his great achievements.

3-May

Tue

Constitution Memorial Day

Remember the establishment of a new constitution for the country in 1947. It took a two-year process of joint Japanese and US effort before a new constitution for Japan was put into effect.

4-May

Wed

Greenery Day

bring attention to the greening up of Japan each year and to the importance and blessings of nature. The sitting emperor gives a Greenery Day speech each year, and people then go out and plant trees.

5-May

Thu

Children's Day

Up until 1948, there was Boys’ Day on 5 May and Girls’ Day on 3 March. Each day celebrated, respectively, the relationships of fathers and sons and of mothers and daughters. But the government combined it all as Children’s Day to promote family unity and to suggest the equality of male and female. The main decoration for Children’s Day is a collection of “Koinobori”, which are wind-blown cloth carps.

18-Jul

Mon

Marine Day

Directing attention to the great blessings and economic prosperity that Japan has derived from its surrounding oceans over the centuries. Right at the end of the rainy season, it is a popular time to head to the beaches and enjoy water sports.

11-Aug

Thu

Mountain Day

Meant to honor the mountainous terrain and ecosystems of Japan’s islands and the ancient cultural traditions that are connected with that geography. It is a perfect day to go hiking or trekking in Japan’s scenic mountain landscape.

19-Sep

Mon

Respect for the Aged Day

Meant to honor all elderly citizens of the country for their many contributions to family and society throughout their long lives. Community events are organized, eating lunch together, sinking karaoke etc. to spend happy time together.

23-Sep

Fri

Autumnal Equinox Day

An occasion for thanking the gods for an abundant harvest and for worshiping ancestors. Many do still venerate ancestors on Autumnal Equinox Day and visit their graves. They will clean the tombs and adorn them with flowers and plants.

10-Oct

Mon

Health and Sports Day

Intended to encourage appreciation of and participation in sports and the following of an active lifestyle. The date is based on the 1964 Summer Olympics, which were held in Tokyo. Numerous schools and businesses-based field day events are put on across Japan on this Sports Day, consisting of fun and serious events.

3-Nov

Thu

Culture Day

Dedicated to celebrating Japanese culture, the arts, and excellence in academics. On Culture Day, local governments throughout Japan host art exhibits, put on parades, and honor scientists and scholars with special awards.

23-Nov

Wed

Labour Thanksgiving Day

Dedicated to being thankful for the hard work of the workers of Japan of all walks of life. Labor-focused events held all over Japan. Trade unions hold huge rallies in major cities, making the voice of labor clearly heard.

Some holidays are clubbed together, in combination with well-placed weekends, to offer extended holidays to the people. Trains, airports and sightseeing spots get very crowded during Golden Week, and accommodation in tourist areas can get booked out well in advance. Highways and trains are flooded on the first and the last day.

Holidays

Period

Details

Golden week

Apr-May

Collection of four national holidays within seven days. See the holidays in the list above.

Obon / Summer holidays

Aug

Not an official holiday. However, people take continued leaves in the mid of August, primarily to pay a visit to their family graves to honor the spirits of their ancestors and loved ones.

Year end

Dec-Jan

Extended holiday usually from 29th December to 3rd of January. People visit their parental homes, visit shrines/temples and enjoy the new year Osechi food.

Silver week

Sep

Usually every five to six years, a favorable accumulation of national holidays (Respect for the Aged Day, Autumn Equinox and a possible in-between holiday) and a weekend creates a longer holiday period similar to Golden Week around late September. The holiday has popularly become known as "Silver Week". The next notable Silver Weeks will be in 2026 and 2037 when five-day long holidays will be observed.

References

https://publicholidays.jp/2022-dates/

https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2282.html

About the author

Kriti Sachdev is a graduate in Elementary Education from Central Institute of Education in Delhi. She came to Japan in 2014 along with her husband. It was her dream to come to and explore Japan. At the time of writing this article, she is living in Japan for more than 8 years.

Yogi (Yogendra Puranik), born in India, is living in Japan for more than 20 years. He is the first elected assemblyman of Indian / Asian origin in Japan and the first foreign-origin person to be appointed as Principal (Grade V Gazetted officer) of a public secondary and high school in Japan. He is a leading volunteer in Indian community in Japan and a thought leader on topics like symbiotic society, education, IT in government etc. He conducts lectures in universities across Japan, ministries, government offices and corporates.

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