NATIONAL HOLIDAYS IN JAPAN

/NATIONAL HOLIDAYS IN JAPAN
  • Relaxing on the beach, Okinawa main island

A Guide to every public holiday in Japan

2019 – an extraordinary year for national holidays in Japan! Due to Emperor Akihito’s abdication and the coronation of the new emperor, there will be FIVE extra public holidays in 2019 – four in April and one in October. This makes 2019 an extraordinary year in terms of national holidays in Japan.

From 2020, there will be a couple of changes to Japan’s public holidays. February 23 will be a new holiday celebrating new Emperor Naruhito’s birthday, and Sports Day will be extraordinarily moved from its current slot in October to July 24, to coincide with the start of the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020.

The Japanese are not in the habit of taking long periods of annual leave. However there are 16 national, government-recognised public holidays per year (compared to 8 public holidays in England & Wales). These public holidays in Japan mean that particular short periods are extremely busy with people travelling to be with family, or taking part in communal festivities. The period at the beginning of May when several public holidays fall on consecutive days is know as “Golden Week”. This holiday period is particularly busy and it is a good idea to avoid travelling during this period, if possible.

Please note that although Japan has a fair amount of national holidays, this usually does not mean that shops will be closed. Most of the time, you will be able to find plenty of shops and restaurants that are open. The only exception to this is New Year’s Day when everything shuts down. Do note, however, that government institutions, banks and post offices (including bank and post office ATMs!) are closed for public holidays.

To learn more about Japan’s traditional holidays and celebrations, click here.

Actual bank holidays are shown in bold.

January 2019

1 Tuesday New Year’s Day (gantan): only 1st January is an official national holiday, but the New Year period (shogatsu) is considered to last until the 3rd, and many business re-open on the 4th or 5th.
2 – 3 Wednesday-Thursday Officially a holiday for banks, post offices and government institutions. This also means that many ATM machines are out of service.
14 Monday Coming of Age Day (seijin no hi): all young people who turn 20 this year are celebrated on this public holiday.

February

3 Sunday Beginning of Spring (setsubun). The first day of spring, according to the ancient lunar calendar. It is a Japanese tradition to mark this by throwing beans at people dressed up as demons. Not a national holiday.
11 Monday National Foundation Day (kenkoku kinen no hi)
Celebrates the mythological foundation of Japan as a nation by Emperor Jimmu on February 11, 660 BC.

March

3 Sunday Girls’ Festival, also called Dolls’ Festival (hina matsuri).
This day is marked by displaying beautiful ceremonial dolls – you will see these in many public places. Not a national holiday.
21 Thursday Spring Equinox (shunbun no hi)
The date when day and night are the same length and the official start of spring. Traditionally, ancestors’ graves are visited on this day.

April

This year the coronation of the crown prince combines with the so-called Golden Week to create ten consecutive days off for most Japanese workers – an unusually long holiday period. It is likely to be extremely busy so try to avoid travelling on these days.

29 Monday Showa Day (Showa no hi), the birthday of the Showa Emperor (Hirohito). Officially this day is dedicated to contemplating the many changes Japan underwent under his reign (1926-1989) – from wartime defeat to economic boom.
30 Tuesday Holiday (kyujitsu). A special national holiday for 2019 only. By Japanese law, if a weekday falls between two holidays, it automatically becomes a holiday.

May

1 Wednesday Emperor Coronation Day (tenno no sokui no hi). The day that Crown Prince Naruhito officially ascends the throne as the new emperor of Japan. A special national holiday for 2019 only.
2 Thursday Holiday(kyujitsu). A special national holiday for 2019 only. By Japanese law, if a weekday falls between two holidays, it automatically becomes a holiday.
3 Friday Constitution Day (kenpo kinenbi) This holiday commemorates the Japanese constitution, which was established in 1948.
4 Saturday Greenery Day (midori no hi) This holiday is dedicated to the wonders and blessings of nature. Japanese people often go hiking or on other excursions in nature on this day.
5 Sunday Childrens’ Day (Boys’ Day) (kodomo no hi) a traditional festival. This holiday originally celebrated boys in the family, but now it is dedicated to all children. Around this day, you will see streamers in the shape of colourful carp. Carp are energetic and swim against the stream, symbolising the strength that parents wish to see in their children.
6 Monday Holiday (kyujitsu). Public holiday since Children’s Day falls on a Sunday.

July

7 Sunday Tanabata (Star Festival) is a traditional festival based on an ancient legend about the stars Altair and Vega. Not a public holiday.
13-15 Saturday-Monday Obon (Festival of Souls). This festival is celebrated in August in most of the country, but many in Tokyo celebrate it in July. Offices are often closed during this time although it is not an official holiday.
15 Monday Marine Day (umi no hi). Public holiday dedicated to giving thanks to the ocean.

August

11 Sunday Mountain Day (yama no hi). A new holiday, held since 2016 to show appreciation of the many mountains of Japan. Many people travel to the mountains on this day.
12 Monday Holiday (kyujitsu). Public holiday since Mountain Day falls on a Sunday.
13-15 Tuesday-Thursday Obon(Festival of Souls). This is Japan’s festival of the dead. Although this is a traditional festival and not an official national holiday, many offices are closed, and travel activity is hectic – avoid the Shinkansen if possible.

September

16 Monday Respect for the Aged Day (keiro no hi). This day is dedicated to showing respect to the elderly and celebrating longevity.
23 Monday Autumn Equinox (shuubun no hi). One of only two days a year when day and night are the same length. Traditionally, ancestors’ graves are visited on this day.

October

14      Monday Sports Day (taiku no hi). A national holiday dedicated to the enjoyment of sports and a healthy body and mind. Note that in 2020, this holiday will be extraordinarily moved to July to coincide with the opening of the Olympics in Tokyo 2020.
22 Thursday Emperor’s Enthronement Ceremony Day (sokuirei seiden no gi no okonawareru hi). On this day, a special ceremony will take place to mark the enthronement of the new emperor. A special holiday for 2019 only.

November

3 Sunday Culture Day (bunka no hi). A holiday dedicated to the enjoyment of cultural and academic pursuits. Many museums and galleries have free entry on this day.
4 Monday Holiday (kyujitsu). Public holiday since Culture Day falls on a Sunday.
15 Friday Shichi-go-san (7/5/3 Festival): not a holiday but a traditional festival celebrating children who turn three, five or seven years old that year.
23 Saturday Labour Thanksgiving Day (kinro kansha no hi). A holiday dedicated to praising labour and giving thanks to working people.

December

25 Wednesday Christmas Day: This is not a holiday, although many Japanese people celebrate Christmas Eve by eating a special “Christmas cake” or going on romantic dates.
31 Tuesday New Years Eve (omisoka): officially a holiday for bank and government employees only. But for many offices, 30th will be the last working day until 4th January.

January 2020

1 Wednesday New Year’s Day (gantan): only 1st January is an official national holiday, but the New Year period (shogatsu) is considered to last until the 3rd, and many business re-open on the 4th or 5th.
2 – 3 Thursday-Friday Officially a holiday for banks, post offices and government institutions. This also means that many ATM machines are out of service.
13 Monday Coming of Age Day (seijin no hi): all young people who turn 20 this year are celebrated on this public holiday.

February

3 Sunday Beginning of Spring (setsubun): The first day of spring, according to the ancient lunar calendar. It is a Japanese tradition to mark this by throwing beans at people dressed up as demons. Not a national holiday.
11 Tuesday National Foundation Day (kenkoku kinen no hi):
Celebrates the mythological foundation of Japan as a nation by Emperor Jimmu on February 11, 660 BC.
23 Sunday The Emperor’s birthday
24 Monday Public holiday since the Emperor’s birthday falls on a Sunday.

March

3 Tuesday Girls’ Festival, also called Dolls’ Festival (hina matsuri):
This day is marked by displaying beautiful ceremonial dolls – you will see these in many public places. Not a national holiday.
20 Friday Spring Equinox (shunbun no hi) :
The date when day and night are the same length and the official start of spring. Traditionally, ancestors’ graves are visited on this day.

April

29 Wednesday Showa Day (Showa no hi): the birthday of the Showa Emperor (Hirohito). Officially this day is dedicated to contemplating the many changes Japan underwent under his reign (1926-1989) – from wartime defeat to economic boom.

May

3 Sunday Constitution Day (kenpo kinenbi): This holiday commemorates the Japanese constitution, which was established in 1948.
4 Monday Greenery Day (midori no hi): This holiday is dedicated to the wonders and blessings of nature. Japanese people often go hiking or on other excursions in nature on this day.
5 Tuesday Childrens’ Day (Boys’ Day) (kodomo no hi): a traditional festival. This holiday originally celebrated boys in the family, but now it is dedicated to all children. Around this day, you will see streamers in the shape of colourful carp. Carp are energetic and swim against the stream, symbolising the strength that parents wish to see in their children.
6 Wednesday Holiday (kyujitsu): Public holiday since Constitution Day falls on a Sunday.

July

7 Tuesday Tanabata (Star Festival): is a traditional festival based on an ancient legend about the stars Altair and Vega. Not a public holiday.
13-15 Monday – Wednesday Obon (Festival of Souls): This festival is celebrated in August in most of the country, but many in Tokyo celebrate it in July. Offices are often closed during this time although it is not an official holiday.
23 Thursday Marine Day (umi no hi): Public holiday dedicated to giving thanks to the ocean.
24 Friday Sports Day (taiku no hi): A national holiday dedicated to the enjoyment of sports and a healthy body and mind. Usually taken in October, but in 2020 this holiday will be extraordinarily moved to July to coincide with the opening of the Olympics in Tokyo 2020.

August

10 Monday Mountain Day (yama no hi): A new holiday, held since 2016 to show appreciation of the many mountains of Japan. Many people travel to the mountains on this day.
13-15 Thursday-Saturday Obon (Festival of Souls): This is Japan’s festival of the dead. Although this is a traditional festival and not an official national holiday, many offices are closed, and travel activity is hectic – avoid the Shinkansen if possible.

September

21 Monday Respect for the Aged Day (keiro no hi): This day is dedicated to showing respect to the elderly and celebrating longevity.
22 Tuesday Autumn Equinox (shuubun no hi): One of only two days a year when day and night are the same length. Traditionally, ancestors’ graves are visited on this day.

November

3 Tuesday Culture Day (bunka no hi): A holiday dedicated to the enjoyment of cultural and academic pursuits. Many museums and galleries have free entry on this day.
15 Sunday Shichi-go-san (7/5/3 Festival): not a holiday but a traditional festival celebrating children who turn three, five or seven years old that year.
23 Monday Labour Thanksgiving Day (kinro kansha no hi): A holiday dedicated to praising labour and giving thanks to working people.

December

25 Friday Christmas Day: This is not a holiday, although many Japanese people celebrate Christmas Eve by eating a special “Christmas cake” or going on romantic dates.
31 Thursday New Years Eve (omisoka): officially a holiday for bank and government employees only. But for many offices, 30th will be the last working day until 4th January.

January 2021

1      Friday  New Year’s Day (gantan): only 1st January is an official national holiday, but the New Year period (shogatsu) is considered to last until the 3rd, and many business re-open on the 4th or 5th.
2 – 3 Saturdaay-Sunday Officially a holiday for banks, post offices and government institutions. This also means that many ATM machines are out of service.
11 Monday Coming of Age Day (seijin no hi): all young people who turn 20 this year are celebrated on this public holiday.

February

3 Wednesday Beginning of Spring (setsubun): The first day of spring, according to the ancient lunar calendar. It is a Japanese tradition to mark this by throwing beans at people dressed up as demons. Not a national holiday.
11 Thursday National Foundation Day (kenkoku kinen no hi):
Celebrates the mythological foundation of Japan as a nation by Emperor Jimmu on February 11, 660 BC.
23 Tuesday The Emperor’s birthday.

March

3 Wednesday Girls’ Festival, also called Dolls’ Festival (hina matsuri):
This day is marked by displaying beautiful ceremonial dolls – you will see these in many public places. Not a national holiday.
20 Saturday Spring Equinox (shunbun no hi):
The date when day and night are the same length and the official start of spring. Traditionally, ancestors’ graves are visited on this day.
29 Thursday Showa Day (Showa no hi): the birthday of the Showa Emperor (Hirohito). Officially this day is dedicated to contemplating the many changes Japan underwent under his reign (1926-1989) – from wartime defeat to economic boom.

May

3 Monday Constitution Day (kenpo kinenbi): This holiday commemorates the Japanese constitution, which was established in 1948.
4 Tuesday Greenery Day (midori no hi): This holiday is dedicated to the wonders and blessings of nature. Japanese people often go hiking or on other excursions in nature on this day.
5 Wednesday Childrens’ Day (Boys’ Day) (kodomo no hi): a traditional festival. This holiday originally celebrated boys in the family, but now it is dedicated to all children. Around this day, you will see streamers in the shape of colourful carp. Carp are energetic and swim against the stream, symbolising the strength that parents wish to see in their children.

July

7 Wednesday Tanabata (Star Festival): is a traditional festival based on an ancient legend about the stars Altair and Vega. Not a public holiday.
13-15 Tuesday – Thursday Obon (Festival of Souls): This festival is celebrated in August in most of the country, but many in Tokyo celebrate it in July. Offices are often closed during this time although it is not an official holiday.
19 Monday Marine Day (umi no hi): Public holiday dedicated to giving thanks to the ocean.

August

11 Wednesday Mountain Day (yama no hi): A new holiday, held since 2016 to show appreciation of the many mountains of Japan. Many people travel to the mountains on this day.
13-15 Friday-Sunday Obon (Festival of Souls): This is Japan’s festival of the dead. Although this is a traditional festival and not an official national holiday, many offices are closed, and travel activity is hectic – avoid the Shinkansen if possible.

September

20 Monday Respect for the Aged Day (keiro no hi): This day is dedicated to showing respect to the elderly and celebrating longevity.
23 Thursday Autumn Equinox (shuubun no hi): One of only two days a year when day and night are the same length. Traditionally, ancestors’ graves are visited on this day.

October

11 Monday Sports Day (taiku no hi): A national holiday dedicated to the enjoyment of sports and a healthy body and mind.

November

3 Wednesday Culture Day (bunka no hi): A holiday dedicated to the enjoyment of cultural and academic pursuits. Many museums and galleries have free entry on this day.
15 Monday Shichi-go-san (7/5/3 Festival): not a holiday but a traditional festival celebrating children who turn three, five or seven years old that year.
23 Tuesday Labour Thanksgiving Day (kinro kansha no hi): A holiday dedicated to praising labour and giving thanks to working people.

December

25 Saturday Christmas Day:  This is not a holiday, although many Japanese people celebrate Christmas Eve by eating a special “Christmas cake” or going on romantic dates.
31 Friday New Years Eve (omisoka): officially a holiday for bank and government employees only. But for many offices, 30th will be the last working day until 4th January.

We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our Cookie Policy Accept