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Holidays & Festivals

Welcome to the Holidays & Festival Page. Click on the English Phrase to view the video associated with that phrase.
Japanese Festivals & National Holidays
Date Name Place Comment
1–3 of January New Year (正月 Shōgatsu)?) All around Japan People go to shrines for Hatsumode, the first day of the new year.
One week in early February Sapporo Snow Festival Sapporo, Hokkaido Large snow and ice sculptures are built in the city’s centrally located Odori Park .
Second Monday of January (national holiday) Coming of Age (seijin no hi) All over Japan The coming of age of 20 year old men and women is celebrated on this national holiday.
February 3 Setsubun All over Japan Beginning of spring and celebrated at shrines and temples nationwide. It’s the bean throwing day!
February 11 National Foundation Day (kenkoku kinenbi) All over Japan In the year 660 BC the first Japanese emperor was crowned.
February 14 Valentine’s Day All over Japan Women give chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day.
March 3 Doll’s Festival (hina matsuri) All over Japan Also called girl’s festival.
March 14 White Day All over Japan The opposite of Valentine’s Day Men give cakes or chocolates to women.
March 1-14 Omizutori Nara Omizutori is a Buddhist religious held every year at the Nigatsudo Hall of Todaiji Temple known for nightly burning of torches on the balcony of the wooden temple hall.
March 20 (national holiday) Spring Equinox Day (shunbun no hi) All over Japan Graves are visited during the week (ohigan) of the Equinox Day.
April 3 The Kanamara Matsuri (かなまら祭り “Festival of the Steel Phallus”) Kanayama shrine (金山神社) in Kawasaki Shinto fertility festival held at the Kanayama shrine in Kawasaki and falls on the first Sunday in April
April 14-15 and October 9-10 Takayama Matsuri Takayama, Gifu Decorated floats are pulled through the old town of Takayama.
Golden Week
April 29 (national holiday) Showa Day (Showa no hi) All over Japan The birthday of former Emperor Showa.
May 3 (national holiday) Constitution Day (kenpo kinenbi) All over Japan. A national holiday remembering the new constitution, which was put into effect after the war.
May 4 (national holiday) Greenery Day (midori no hi) Greenery Day is due to the emperor’s love for plants and nature.
May 5 (national holiday) Children’s Day (kodomo no hi) All over Japan. Also called boy’s festival.
Festivals
Third full weekend in mid May Sanja Matsuri Asakusa Shrine, Asakusa, Tokyo One of Tokyo’s three big festivals. Mikoshi are carried through the streets of Asakusa.
July/August 7 Star Festival (tanabata) All over Japan Tanabata is based on the love of two people that can only meet on this day.
July Kyoto Gion Matsuri Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto Gion Matsuri is ranked as one of Japan’s three best festivals, featuring over 20 meter tall festival floats. The highlight of the festival takes place on July 17.
Third Monday of July (national holiday) Ocean Day (umi no hi) All over Japan The day marks the return of Emperor Meiji from a boat trip to Hokkaido in 1876.
July/August 13-15 Obon: All over Japan. Obon is a festival to commemorate deceased ancestors.
August 2-7 Nebuta Matsuri Aomori City, Aomori Prefecture The Nebuta Matsuri features festival floats with huge lanterns, some measuring more than 10 meters. The festival attracts several million visitors every year.
August 3-6 Kanto Matsuri Akita City, Akita Prefecture Over two hundred long bamboo poles with up to 46 lanterns attached to each are balanced by the members of this popular festival’s nightly parades.
July/August 7 Star Festival (tanabata) All over Japan Tanabata is based on the love of two people that can only meet on this day.
August 12-15 Awa Odori Tokushima City, Tokushima Prefecture This is the most famous of many traditional dancing festivals held across Japan during the obon season in mid August.
July/August 13-15 Obon: All over Japan. Obon is a festival to commemorate deceased ancestors.
Third Monday of September (national holiday) Respect for the Aged Day (keiro no hi) All over Japan Respect for the elderly and longevity are celebrated on this national holiday.
Around September 23 (national holiday) Autum Equinox Day (shubun no hi) All over Japan Graves are visited during the week (ohigan) of the Equinox Day.
October 7-9 Nagasaki Kunchi Suwa Shrine, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture The Nagasaki Kunchi features Chinese style dragons and floats shaped like ships.
Second Monday of October (national holiday) Health and Sports Day (taiiku no hi): All over Japan On that day in 1964, the Olympic games of Tokyo were opened.
October 22 Jidai Matsuri Kyoto A historical parade that covers 1000 years during which Kyoto served as Japan’s capital. The procession leads from Kyoto Imperial Palace to Heian Shrine.
November 3 (national holiday) Culture Day (bunka no hi) All over Japan. A day for promotion of culture and the love of freedom and peace. On culture day, schools and the government award selected persons for their special, cultural achievements.
November 15 Seven-Five-Three (shichigosan) All over Japan. A festival for children,
November 23 (national holiday) Labour Thanksgiving Day (kinro kansha no hi) All over Japan A national holiday for honoring labour.
December 2-3 Chichibu Yomatsuri Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture The Chichibu Night Festival is considered one of Japan’s three best festivals featuring large festival floats (yatai). The festival’s highlight takes place in the evening of December 3.
December 23 (national holiday) Emperor’s Birthday (tenno no tanjobi): All over Japan. The birthday of the current emperor is always a national holiday. If the emperor changes, the national holiday changes to the birthday date of the new emperor.
December 24-25 Christmas All over Japan Christmas is not a national holiday, but it is celebrated by an increasing number of Japanese.
December 31 New Year’s Eve (omisoka) All over Japan December 31 is not a national holiday.
Japanese National Holidays
Date English Romaji Japanese
1-Jan New Year’s Day Ganjitsu 元日
2nd Monday of January Coming of Age Day Seijin no hi 成人の日
11-Feb National Foundation Day† Kenkoku kinen no hi 建国記念の日
March 20 or March 21 Vernal Equinox Day Shunbun no hi 春分の日
29-Apr Showa Day Showa no hi 昭和の日
3-May Constitution Memorial Day * Kenpō kinenbi 憲法記念日
4-May Greenery Day * Midori no hi みどり(緑)の日
5-May Children’s Day * Kodomo no hi 子供の日
3rd Monday of July Marine Day Umi no hi 海の日
3rd Monday of September Respect for the Aged Day Keirō no hi 敬老の日
September 23 or September 24 Autumnal Equinox Day Shūbun no hi 秋分の日
2nd Monday of October Health-Sports Day Taiiku no hi 体育の日
3-Nov Culture Day Bunka no hi 文化の日
23-Nov Labour Thanksgiving Day Kinrō kansha no hi 勤労感謝の日
23-Dec The Emperor’s Birthday Tennō tanjōbi 天皇誕生日
24 Sekki
Date English Romaji Japanese
5-Jan Small Colda.k.a. 寒の入り Kan no iri) entrance of the cold Shōkan 小寒
20-Jan Major cold Daikan 大寒
4-Feb Beginning of spring Risshun 立春
19-Feb Rain water Usui 雨水
5-Mar awakening of hibernated insects) Keichitsu 啓蟄
20-Mar Vernal equinox, middle of spring Shunbun 春分
5-Apr Clear and bright Seimei 清明
20-Apr Grain rain Kokuu 穀雨
5-May Beginning of summer Rikka 立夏
21-May Grain full Shōman 小満
6-Jun Grain in ear Bōshu 芒種
21-Jun Summer solstice, middle of summer Geshi 夏至
7-Jul Small heat Shōsho 小暑
23-Jul Large heat Taisho 大暑
7-Aug Beginning of autumn Risshū 立秋
23-Aug Limit of heat Shosho 処暑
7-Sep White dew Hakuro 白露
23-Sep Autumnal equinox, middle of autumn Shūbun 秋分
8-Oct Cold dew Kanro 寒露
23-Oct Frost descent Sōkō 霜降
7-Nov Beginning of winter Rittō 立冬
22-Nov Small snow Shōsetsu 小雪
7-Dec Large snow Taisetsu 大雪
22-Dec Winter solstice, middle of winter Tōji 冬至
Zassetsu
Date Comment Romaji Japanese
17-Jan Fuyu no doyō 冬の土用
3-Feb The eve of Risshun by one definition. Setsubun 節分
21-Mar Also known as 春社 (Shunsha). Haru shanichi 春社日
March 18–March 24 The seven days surrounding Shunbun. Haru higan 春彼岸
17-Apr Haru no doyō 春の土用
2-May Literally meaning 88 nights (since Risshun). Hachijū hachiya 八十八夜
11-Jun Literally meaning entering tsuyu. Nyūbai 入梅
2-Jul One of the 72 Kō. Farmers take five days off in some regions. Hangeshō 半夏生
15-Jul Sometimes considered a Zassetsu. Akisha 中元
20-Jul Natsu no doyō 夏の土用
1-Sep Literally meaning 210 days (since Risshun). Nihyaku tōka 二百十日
11-Sep Literally meaning 220 days. Nihyaku hatsuka 二百二十日
September 20–September 26 Aki higan 秋彼岸
22-Sep Also known as 秋社 Akisha Aki shanichi 秋社日
20-Oct Aki no doyō 秋の土用