Public holidays in Japan
Non-worked Japanese national celebrations
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:
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 2021!
New Year: Extended National Holidays
In order to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in Japan 🦠, 2021 New year’s holidays will be extended by one week and end on Monday 11 January included. For those whose holidays start from Saturday 26 December, the vacation will last up to 17 consecutive days, an unprecedented length for Japanese workers!
To celebrate Tokyo Olympic Games 🏅, three public holidays were shifted to match the opening and closing ceremonies in 2020. Due to the Olympics postponement, the same date shift is to be applied in 2021:
- Marine Day is postponed from the 19th to July 22nd
- Health and Sports Day is postponed from October 11th to July 23rd
- Mountain Day is moved from the 11th to August 8th and 9th
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.
During these seasonal periods, Japan is idling, while transportation (especially trains 🚅 and domestic airports to exit from large urban centers) and sightseeing spots get very crowded.
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 3rd, 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.