Imagine planning your dream venture in the Land of the Rising Sun, only to find the streets quieter than a whisper or, paradoxically, brimming with festivities beyond your wildest dreams.

That’s the dual-sided sword of public holidays in Japan, a tapestry of tradition and modernity, impacting everything from foot traffic to financial forecasts.

For savvy business owners, knitting a keen understanding of these holidays into their strategy is not just wise; it’s essential.

This intricate guide is your calendar cornerstone, a deep dive into Japan’s pulsating public heartbeats. You’ll unravel the threads of Golden Week’s economic surge and decode the hush of Obon Week’s reflection, all while navigating the business impacts with the finesse of a cultural connoisseur.

Venture beyond just dates—as we explore the rich tapestry woven by holiday customs and statutory subtleties—your blueprint for business finesse amid Japan’s vibrant holiday hues awaits.

By the close, expect more than enlightenment; anticipate a strategic edge as we unwrap the nuances of Japan’s national observances—from the New Year’s ‘Osechi-ryori’ to the reverent tranquility of Labor Thanksgiving Day.

Public holidays in Japan

Public Holiday2024 DateDay of the WeekPurpose/SignificanceRemarks
New Year’s DayJanuary 1MondayCelebrating the new yearBeginning of the Gregorian calendar year
Coming of Age DayJanuary 8MondayHonoring those who have reached adulthoodCelebrated on the second Monday of January
National Foundation DayFebruary 11SundayRemembering the foundation of Japan 
Emperor’s BirthdayFebruary 23FridayCelebrating the Emperor’s birth 
Vernal Equinox DayMarch 20WednesdayObserving the arrival of springDate varies; around the spring equinox
Showa DayApril 29MondayHonoring the previous Emperor ShowaPart of Golden Week
Constitution Memorial DayMay 3FridayReflecting on democracy and the constitutionPart of Golden Week
Greenery DayMay 4SaturdayAppreciating nature and the environmentPart of Golden Week
Children’s DayMay 5SundayCelebrating children’s health and happinessPart of Golden Week
Marine DayJuly 15MondayGratitude for the ocean and maritime prosperityCelebrated on the third Monday of July
Mountain DayAugust 11SundayAppreciating mountains and nature 
Respect for the Aged DaySeptember 16MondayHonoring the elderlyCelebrated on the third Monday of September
Autumnal Equinox DaySeptember 23MondayObserving the coming of autumnDate varies; around the autumnal equinox
Health and Sports DayOctober 14MondayPromoting sports and physical healthCelebrated on the second Monday of October
Culture DayNovember 3SundayPromoting culture, the arts, and academic endeavor 
Labor Thanksgiving DayNovember 23SaturdayCelebrating labor and production 

New Year’s Day (Shogatsu)

It’s safe to say that every culture celebrates New Year’s Day in some way and the Japanese are no different. Since they follow the Gregorian calendar, it falls on the 1st of January.

What’s different is that New Year’s Day in Japan is tied to Shiho-hai, an imperial worship ceremony. For this reason, the celebrations last until the 3rd of January. The shrines and temples of Japan often get crowded during these festivities.

Shogatsu is often the time when Japanese families get together and throw feasts. Of course, it wouldn’t be a New Year’s Day celebration without good fireworks.

Coming-of-Age Day (Seijin no Hi)

The Coming-of-Age Day is a tribute to young people aged between 18 and 20. The Japanese associate these years with growth and maturity. It traditionally falls on the second Monday of January. Most institutions don’t operate on this national holiday.

National Foundation Day (Kenkoku Kinen no Hi)

The Japanese are proud of their country and National Foundation Day manifests this pride. It falls on the 11th of February. This was the date when Japan was founded.

The Emperor’s Birthday (Tenno Tanjobi)

Currently, this Japanese public holiday falls on the 23rd of February. When his successor ascends to the throne, it will naturally change.

During this day, people can visit the palace and see the emperor. The palace otherwise remains inaccessible to the general public. Most institutions remain closed on the emperor’s birthday.

Vernal Equinox Day (Shunbun no Hi)

The Vernal Equinox Day celebrates the arrival of spring. The exact date isn’t fixed, but it usually falls on either March 20 or 21. On this day, night and day last equally long.

Japanese visit their families on this day. For some, it’s also the time to visit the graves and remember those who passed away.

Cherry blossoms begin to bloom around this time, prompting some people to visit nearby parks.

Showa Day (Showa no Hi)

Observed on the 29th of April, Showa Day commemorates the birthday of Emperor Hirohito. He saw Japan through a difficult period, namely World War II. This holiday marks the beginning of Golden Week, a week containing three other public holidays.

Constitution Memorial Day (Kenpo Kinenbi)

The second public holiday of the famous Golden Week, Constitution Memorial Day falls on the 3rd of May. As the name suggests, the Japanese remember the day they adopted the constitution.

The press focuses heavily on the feats of the Japanese government on this day. The National Diet Building opens to the public on this holiday as this is where the constitution was created.

The constitution changed after the infamous nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It now promotes pacifism and claims that people hold the true power of their country. The emperor is merely the state’s symbol, representing its citizens’ unity. These unfortunate events made this day all the more important for the Japanese.

Greenery Day (Midori no Hi)

This public holiday falls the day after the Constitution Memorial Day, on the 4th of May. Greenery Day honors Emperor Hirohito’s love for flora and nature in general. On this day, the Japanese pay tribute to nature and all its elements.

Both the Emperor and Empress attend this event which is based on the Afforestation Promotion Organization.

Children’s Day Holiday (Kodomo no Hi)

The last Japanese public holiday of the Golden Week, Children’s Day falls on the 5th of May. The government established this holiday back in 1948. Families celebrate this holiday by buying and decorating dolls. They also craft carp streamers which they let fly in the wind.

The goal of this holiday is to cherish children and ensure their happiness. Parents often pray to wish their children healthy and successful lives. They also draw their children’s baths with Irish leaves to repel diseases and other disasters.

Marine Day (Umi no Hi)

A public holiday since 1996, Marine Day falls on the third Monday of July. Since Japan is an island-bound country, the Japanese pay tribute to the sea and all the gifts it brings on this day.

The national aquarium hosts several events on Marine Day, such as water shows and water sports competitions. The Japanese Navy also adorns its ships with the national flag. Most businesses and institutions don’t operate on this public holiday.

Mountain Day Holiday (Yama no Hi)

As its name suggests, the Japanese honor the mountains of their country on this day. It falls on the 11th of August every year.

Respect for the Aged Day (Keiro no Hi)

This Japanese public holiday falls on the third Monday of September every ear. Its main goal is to cultivate an appreciation for elderly citizens. Originally a festival, it became a public holiday in 1966. Younger family members host parties for their elders as a token of respect.

Autumnal Equinox Day (Shubun no Hi)

The Autumn Equinox typically can fall on the 22nd, 23rd, or 24th of September. The equinox marks the day when the day and night last equally long. This is because the Sun just passes over the equator to the Southern hemisphere. After this day, nights become increasingly longer in the Northern hemisphere until the winter solstice.

Derived from Shintoism, the Autumnal Equinox was originally a time to celebrate the gods after a bountiful harvest. According to Buddhism, the line between the living and the dead becomes thin on the day of the equinox.

Sports Day (Supotsu no Hi)

Sports Day (formerly Health and Sports Day) became a public holiday after 1964. It commemorates the day when Tokyo became the first Asian city to host the Olympics. Originally observed on the 10 of October, it falls on the second Monday in October now. This change happened in 2000.

Many Japanese institutions organize sporting events on this day. It’s meant to promote physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.

Culture Day (Bunka no Hi)

Culture Day falls on the 3rd of November unless it happens to be a Sunday. In this case, it’s moved to next Monday. The origin of this holiday dates back to 1927. At that time, the Japanese celebrated the birthday of Emperor Meiji, who ruled Japan between 1867 and 1912.

Over the years, it became the day when the Japanese honored their culture. On Culture Day, the national museum is open to the public and entrance is free. Scientists and artists also receive awards for their accomplishments on this day.

Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kinro Kansha no Hi)

This Japanese public holiday falls on the 3rd of November. If this day is Sunday, it’s moved to the following Monday instead. On this day, the emperor places an offering in the form of harvest rice to the gods before eating his own fill. This ritual dates to ancient times and people used it to celebrate a good harvest.

Japanese labor organization sponsors many events on these days. Children in nursery schools often make gifts for police officers. These gifts are tokens of gratitude for the protection they provide. Other schools instead take them on field trips.

FAQ On Public Holidays In Japan

What are the exact dates for public holidays in Japan?

There’s a specific vibe to Japanese streets when public holidays roll around. Each year, dates do sometimes sway a touch—think Vernal Equinox—but many are locked in, like January 1 for Japanese New Year.

A quick look at Japan’s holiday schedule gives the rundown, but remember to check for those moveable festive moments.

How do public holidays in Japan affect local businesses?

On holidays like Children’s Day or Culture Day, you can almost hear the cash registers sing with joy or sigh in quiet, depending on the biz.

Retailers, they bloom with special sales. But offices, including government agencies, they tend to shut down, offering silence and stillness.

What is Golden Week, and why is it significant?

Imagine Japan in full festive flight—Golden Week is that, but on steroids. It’s a sequence of public holidays packed into late April and early May, a prime time for travel and family frolics.

This period can make or break quarterly earnings for many a business, hands down.

Are there any public holidays unique to Japan?

Behold the Emperor’s Birthday, a holiday that’s as Japanese as sushi and sumo wrestling. It shifts with the reigning emperor, a holiday that is intrinsically Japan’s own.

Then there’s Mountain Day, appreciating nature’s peaks, a concept that could only bloom from Japan’s profound respect for its landscape.

Do public holidays in Japan change every year?

Some do; some don’t. Take Obon Week—based on the lunar calendar, so it’s a shapeshifter.

But then you’ve got the solid ones, like Labor Thanksgiving Day, which parks itself firmly on November 23 each year. So, yeah, it’s a mix: some predictable, some roaming free.

Can foreign visitors participate in Japanese holiday festivities?

Absolutely! It’s like an open invitation to dive into Japan’s cultural ocean. Wander through a cherry blossom festival during Hanami, or catch a spirited matsuri in summer.

Visitors aren’t just welcome—they’re embraced with open arms and often a tantalizing array of street food.

How do the Japanese celebrate New Year’s Day?

It’s a time steeped in tradition. Families gather, savor Osechi-ryori (that’s the special New Year food—meticulous and symbolic), and toss coins at temples on January 1.

The air is thick with hope, and the Hatsumode (first temple visit of the year) is practically a spiritual cleanse.

What should tourists know about Japan during public holidays?

Transport? Crammed. Hotels? Snapped up faster than a fresh sushi roll. Key tip: plan ahead, especially during Golden Week or New Year.

Anticipate closures, and savor the change of pace. It’s a time when Japan breathes differently, and embracing that rhythm is key to a memorable trip.

How do public holidays impact travel within Japan?

Let’s be real—Japan’s public holidays transform travel from a smooth bullet train ride into a game of Tetris, where everyone’s scrambling for their spot.

Especially during peak times like Golden Week. Yet, this rush can be an adrenaline shot for local tourism, energizing the economy from top to bottom.

Are there any quiet periods during Japanese public holidays?

Oh, you bet. When cities empty out as folks rush homeward, places like Tokyo can suddenly seem like ghost towns. 

Obon Week in mid-August and the New Year period put a hush on the usual hustle. It’s Japan’s soft whisper, a rare moment of collective pause and reflection.


And there we have it—a spin around the festive merry-go-round that are the public holidays in Japan. For those holding the reins of a business, knowing this rhythm is less a choice, more a necessity. A dance with the dates—Golden Week’s bustle, Obon’s solemn tempo—is an investment in cultural savvy and business acumen.

We’ve unraveled how each holiday stitches into Japan’s societal fabric, and by extension, its marketplaces. Japanese national holidays offer a spectrum of opportunities, from themed promotions during Children’s Day to strategic closures aligning with the nation’s revered observance of Respect for the Aged Day.

Embrace these pauses, these celebrations, as chances to connect on a deeper level with the local ethos. And remember, amid the confetti of Culture Day or the quietude of Autumn Equinox Day, lies a narrative. It’s one that intertwines a nation’s pride and your business’s potential—a story worth marking, in red, on any calendar.

If you liked this article about public holidays in Japan, you should check out this one on how many working days there are in a year.

You should also check out these other articles of ours about French public holidays, South Korean holidays, Singapore public holidays, New Zealand holidays, and also public holidays in Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US.


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