events and holidays

Japanese annual events and holidays.

Art Aquarium 2019 Nihonbashi

ECO EDO NIHONBASHI Art Aquarium 2019 at Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall in Tokyo. Until Sep 23, 2019. This special exhibition is featuring mixture of aquarium and digital art, held annually as summer event for Japanese people to get cool air. Goldfish bowls have been enjoyed at home to get cool feeling during hot humid summer in Japan. This is very modern art version of goldfish bowls in a larger scale. Fantastic to experience! This year’s exhibitions will be the last one in this venue. The next year’s venue is not decided yet.

Respect for the Aged Day

Respect for the Aged Days is one of national holidays in Japan, held on the third Monday of September. It is held to honor and show respect to the elderly. It used to be cerebrated on September 15 until 2002. As the Japanese government adopted the Happy Monday System to give us the longer weekends, it was moved to the third Monday of September since 2003.  What people usually do for elderly ? People usually visit their parents or grandparents, giving the presents, enjoy eating together and so on. We tell them our praying ”Please live a long, healthy life”. Children of kindergarten or elementary school sometimes visit nursing home(retirement […]

Obon week Aug 13-16

Obon is the Buddhist annual custom held in Aug 13-16(in some areas July)honoring the spirits of one’s ancestors. Though not designated as national holidays, most companies set as company holidays, making one of the long holidays in Japan. Many people go back hometown or travel, causing traffic congestion. Our ancestors’ spirits coming back to family. Our ancestors’ spirts are believed to come back to the family in our world during Obon week in Buddhism. It is common practice for people to go back home and visit family graves, making this period reunion for the separated families gathering together. How people cerebrate Obon? A small fire to show the way. On […]

Marine Day

The third Monday of July is cerebrated as Marine Day in Japan. Marine Day is a national holiday which is relatively new to us. Being established in 1996, originally held on July 20. As Japan adopted Happy Monday System by the revision of the National Holidays Law, Marine Day has moved to the third Monday in July since 2003. It is the day appreciate for the ocean and prosperity of maritime Japan. The Meiji Emperor sailed on a steamship in 1876. The holiday has its origin in the fact that the Meiji Emperor had an Imperial tour to Tohoku (North part of main island of Japan) and sailed back from […]

Tanabata Festival on July 7th

Tanabata is the Star Festival. Tanabata is an annual festival held on July 7th (some are on Aug). It cerebrates the two star-crossed deities meet each other once a year in the heavens. Often translated to Star Festival or The Festival of the Weaver. According to the legend, on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, two deities separated by the Milkey Way can meet each other in the heavens. We celebrate this event with writing our wishes on narrow colorful strips of papers hung on bamboo branches to pray our wishes come true.Children love this event and you can see many bamboo displays ornamented by […]

Children’s Day

Children’s Day is former Boys’ Day May 5th is celebrated as Children’s day in Japan. It used to be Boys’ Festival. As it is designated as a national holiday, it turned to  “Children’s Day” for both boys and girls, because we have Girls’ Festival known as Doll Festival on March 3rd but not registered as a national holiday, it’s fair to have a national holiday for both. Displaying Samurai armor dolls is common practice. It is traditionally for Boys. The families with boys display Samurai armor dolls called “Gogatsu-ningyo” and Samurai helmet called “Kabuto” in their houses to pray boys will grow as strong as Samurai warriors. “Gogatsu” means May and […]

Golden Week

Golden Week is one of three annual holiday seasons in Japan. Golden Week is a week with many national holidays which starts on April 29th. How long we have as Golden Week depends on the year calendar. Many people travel during this period, therefore everywhere gets packed with people including accommodations and transportations. It’s better to consider the congestion in the planning of travel. Golden Week consists of 4 national holidays below. Showa Day on Apr 29th It used to be celebrated as the birthday of Emperor Showa. Now is the day to reflect on Showa Period when the recovery was made after the war. Constitution Memorial Day on May 3rd The […]

Equinox Day and Higan week (Eqinoctial week)

Higan is a week centering around the Equinox day.  There are two Equinox days in a year, vernal and autumnal, so we have 2 Higan weeks in a year, Haru-Higan(vernal higan) and Aki-Higan(autumnal  higan). Each Equinox day is designated as a National Holiday. During this period Buddhist temples hold special memorial services and we have the custom of visiting our ancestors’ graves. Haru-Higan(vernal higan)  is a week usually around March 21st. Aki-Higan(autumnal  higan) is a week usually around September 23rd. Higan is a week easy for the dead to cross the river. On the Equinox day, the day and night are almost equally long.  In Buddhism, it is believed that it becomes easier for the […]

“Hina-matsuri” Doll Festival on March 3rd.

March 3rd is cerebrated as Girl’s Festival called “Hina-matsuri” in Japan. Although it is not designated as a national holiday, it is commonly cerebrated for the family with girls.Hina-maturi is translated to “Dolls Festival”, because families with girls display Hina-ningyo, or Hina-dolls, at their homes to pray for girls’ healthy growth and happiness. Hina-dolls are believed to take away the bad luck of the girl who owns them. What is like Hina-dolls ? Hina-dolls depict the Imperial Court in the Heian period which is the 8th century to the 12th century. Each hina-doll wears the Heian period costume. Main 2 dolls represent the Emperor and the Empress and the other dolls […]

Valentine’s Day in Japan

How it goes with Valentine’s Day in Japan ? Saint Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14th is cerebrated around the world. Each country has its own custom how to cerebrate this day. How it goes in Japan? The day for women give Chocolates to men. Rather than couples exchanging cards or gifts each other, only women give gifts on Valentine’s Day in Japan. Normally the gift is chocolate. It has no religious meaning in Japanese Valentine. There are 2 types of chocolates. One is so called “Girl-choko” which is given by women to male friends, co-workers and bosses as a thanks gift. Girl-choco is translated to “Obligation-choco”. Women “have to” spend some […]

National Foundation Day in Feb. 11th

February 11th is cerebrated as National Foundation Day. It is a National Holiday in Japan.   Based on Nihon-shoki (the oldest chronicles of Japan), the first Emperor of Japan, Jinmu(神武), ascended to the throne on this day. In Japanese, 神(Jin)means God and 武(Mu)means martial arts. It is said that the present Imperial family are the descendants of the first Emperor Jinmu, which means Japan has had the longest lineage in the world for some 2,678 years. It had been cerebrated as Empire Day called “Kigen-setsu” until the end of World War II. It once discontinued after the war due to political purposes. In 1966, however, it was designated as a […]

Setsubun festival in Feb 3rd. Eat Eho-maki!

Setsubun Festival   “Demons out! Happiness in!” February 3rd is “Setsubun” festival in Japan. (The date is different on each year, but mostly around Feb.3rd) It’s kind of a funny holiday in Japan. “Setusbun” literally means “splitting the seasons”.  It is the day before the first day of spring, so Setsubun splits between winter and spring. Although it is not designated as a national holiday, the special bean throwing events called “Mame-maki” are held widely to cerebrate Setsubun day. “Mame” means “beans” and “maki” means “scattering”. At home, people throw and scatter roasted soy beans inside and outside their houses while saying, “Demons OUT!  Happiness IN!” (“Oni-wa-soto, Fuku-wa-uchi” in Japanese.) Usually one or […]