Archive for dates

December 31 – New Year’s Eve ( Omisoka )

December 31 is not a national holiday.

December 24-25 – Christmas

Christmas was initially introduced to Japan with the arrival of the first Europeans in the 16th century. But only in recent decades has the event become widely popular in Japan, and this despite the fact that Christians make up only about two percent of the population.While christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, more and more people are taking up traditions such as decorating their home, giving presents to friends and celebrating the event with a special meal.

In a survey conducted by japan-guide.com among young Japanese people, a majority of 54 percent responded that christmas means something special to them, with women and teenagers showing a particular attraction.

Most enthusiastic about christmas, however, seem to be retail stores and shopping malls, where christmas trees, santa clauses and other seasonal decorations can be found several weeks in advance. Some public places also feature seasonal illuminations.

The traditional Japanese christmas food is the christmas cake, usually made of sponge cake, strawberries and whipped cream. In our survey, as many as 73 percent responded to celebrate christmas with a cake.

December 23 ( National Holiday ) – Emperor’s Birthday ( Tenno No Tanjobi )

The birthday of the current emperor is always a national holiday. If the emperor changes, the national holiday changes to the birthday date of the new emperor.

November 23 ( National Holiday ) – Labour Thanksgiving Day ( Kinro Kansha No Hi )

A national holiday for honoring labour.

November 15 – Seven-Five-Three ( shichigosan )

“Shichi Go San” means “Seven Five Three”. Girls of age three and seven and boys of age three and five are celebrated on Shichigosan, and it is prayed for their good health and growth. Shichigosan takes place on November 15 and is not a national holiday. On November 15 or the closest weekend, the young people visit a Shinto Shrine dressed up in kimono.

Odd numbers are considered lucky numbers. Long candies in bags that are decorated with turtles and cranes are given to the children. The candy, the crane, and the turtle, all symbolize longlivity.

November 3 ( National Holiday ) – Culture Day ( Bunka No Hi )

A day for promotion of culture and the love for freedom and peace. On the culture day, schools and the government award certain persons for their special, cultural activities.

2nd Monday Of October ( National Holiday ) – Health & Sports Day ( Taiiku No Hi )

On that day 1964, the Olympic games of Tokyo were opened.

September 23 ( National Holiday ) – Autumn Equinox Day ( Shubun No Hi )

Graves are visited during the week (ohigan) of the Equinox Day.

3rd Monday Of September ( National Holiday ) – Respect For The Aged Day ( Keiro No Hi )

Respect for the elderly and longlivity is celebrated on this national holiday.

July / August 13-15 – Obon

Obon is an annual Buddhist event for commemorating one’s ancestors. It is believed that each year during obon, the ancestors’ spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives.

Traditionally, lanterns are hang in front of houses to guide the ancestors’ spirits, obon dances (bon odori) are performed, graves are visited and food offerings are made at house altars and temples.

At the end of Obon, floating lanterns are put into rivers, lakes and seas in order to guide the spirits back into their world. The customs followed vary strongly from region to region.

Obon is celebrated from the 13th to the 15th day of the 7th month of the year, which is July according to the solar calendar. However, since the 7th month of the year roughly coincides with August rather than July according to the formerly used lunar calendar, Obon is still celebrated in mid August in many regions of Japan, while it is celebrated in mid July in other regions.

The Obon week in mid August is one of Japan’s three major holiday seasons, accompanied by intensive domestic and international travel activities and increased accommodation rates.

In 2007, the peak of the Obon travel season is anticipated to take place between August 11 and 15.

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