Japanese people work a lot (long hours, at least) and are sometimes reluctant to take their days off. Therefore, the government regularly adds public holidays to "force" employees to rest. The Japanese archipelago has thus become one of the countries with the most days off in the world.
Here is the list of national celebrations, which correspond to public holidays in Japan. These days also mark the leave of some administrations, as well as certain Japanese gardens, parks, museums and temples / shrines. However stores and shopping malls remain usually opened during this schedule:
|Date||Official name||In Japanese||Translation / Event|
|January 1st||Ganjitsu||元日||New Year / 1st day of the year|
|2nd Monday of January||Seijin no Hi||成人の日||Coming of Age Day (at 20 years old)|
|February 11||Kenkoku (Kinen) no Hi||建国の日||National Foundation Day|
|February 23||Tennô Tanjôbi||天皇誕生日||Birthday of Emperor Naruhito
(starting in 2019)
|March 20 or 21||Shunbun no Hi||春分の日||Vernal Equinox Day (spring equinox)|
|April 29||Showa no Hi||昭和の日||Birthday of Emperor Showa|
|May 1||TBC||Prince Naruhito’s enthronement
(only in 2019)
|May 3||Kenpo Kinenbi||憲法記念日||Constitution Memorial Day|
|May 4||Midori no Hi||緑の日||Greenery Day|
|May 5||Kodomo no Hi||子供の日||Children's Day|
|3rd Monday of July||Umi no Hi||海の日||Marine Day|
|August 11||Yama no Hi||山の日||Mountain Day (added in 2016)|
|3rd Monday of September||Keiro no Hi||敬老の日||Respect for the Aged Day|
|September 22 or 23||Shubun no Hi||秋分の日||Autumnal Equinox Day|
|2nd Monday of October||Taiiku no Hi||体育の日||Health and Sports Day|
|November 3||Bunka no Hi||文化の日||Culture Day|
|November 23||Kinro Kansha no Hi||勤労感謝の日||Labour Thanksgiving Day|
|December 23||Tennô Tanjôbi||天皇誕生日||Birthday of Emperor Akihito
(will be removed from 2019)
Good to know during a travel in Japan: if the national holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday (the day after) is non-worked.
To be very detailed, we can add to this list countless regional and local festivals, but they are rarely days off.
Also, there are a certain amount of other big annual events (Obon in August, Shichi-Go-San in November, Christmas in December…) which are celebrated nationwide but not as public holidays.
Important notice: special features in 2020!
In order to celebrate Tokyo Olympic Games, three public holidays will be shifted to match the opening and closing ceremonies:
- Marine Day is postponed from the 20th to July 23rd
- Health and Sports Day is postponed from October 12th to July 24th
- Mountain Day is postponed from the 11th to August 10th
Holiday weeks in Japan
In Japan, there is also a traditionally strong concept, happening once or twice a year: a collection of public holidays in a row which, end by end, make up a small resting week for many Japanese people.
First there is the Golden Week / ゴールデンウィーク: May 3-4-5 + the weekend, sometimes supplemented by a "Silver Week" in late September.
And finally, the Oshogatsu / 御正月 period: from December 29th to January 6th, traditionally dedicated to house cleaning and onsen break. Some people also call it the "Second Golden Week". Note that many tourist attractions, shops and restaurants are closed during those days.