Winter Holidays in Japan

Flags in Kyoto

Flags raised on Foundation Day ©mikearther/Flickr

Beside the well-known traditional festivals Japan also has national holidays. All these holidays are somehow related to past events and they are celebrated throughout the whole country. Most of these holidays are celebrated in Spring or Summer, but Winter has its holidays as well.

Surprisingly, Japanese people do not celebrate Christmas, because only a minority of Japan’s citizens is Christian. The most important winter holiday is New Year, but I did not include it here, because another article deals with New Year traditions. Here I collected the winter holidays of Japan.

Coming of Age Day

Coming of Age Day

Coming of Age Day – ceremony ©Coyotte/Flickr

This holiday is always held on the second Monday of January. This Japanese holiday‘s purpose is to encourage those who have reached the age of maturity, in other words those who had turned 20 years in the previous year. It is usually celebrated with coming of age ceremonies, which are held at local offices. Family celebrations are also common.

Coming of Age Day (or Seijin no Hi) helps the young adults realize that they are independent adults and not children anymore. This holiday is celebrated since 714 AD.


Foundation Day

Flags in Kyoto

flags in Kyoto ©mikearther/Flickr

National Foundation Day (Kenkoku Kinen no Hi) is celebrated on 11 February every year. Originally, this day was New Year’s Day according to the traditional lunar calendar. Other sources claim that in 660 BC the first Japanese emperor was crowned on this day.

This holiday is not celebrated as strikingly, as National Days in other countries. People usually raise flags, representing their nationality and citizenship. It was claimed a national holiday in 1966.


Culture Day

Culture Day

Parade on Culture Day ©sean in japan/Flickr

Culture Day, or Bunka no Hi is celebrated on 3 November. Though in Western countries November is considered to be an Autumn month, in Japan it belongs to Winter. The purpose of this holiday is to promote arts, culture and academic endeavour.

Being a cultural holiday, Bunka no Hi is typically celebrated with different art exhibitions or award ceremonies for scholars and artists.


Labor Thanksgiving Day

It falls on 23 November and it is called Kinroukansha no Hi. On this day, Japanese citizens are encouraged to thank for their welfare. It is a holiday for commemorating work and labor.

Thanksgiving Day is the modern version of an ancient harvest festival, the Niiname-sai. May 1st is similar to this holiday and it is also celebrated by many Japanese people.


The Emperor’s Birthday

Imperial Family

The Imperial Family ©dalangalma/Flickr

This holiday is determined by the birthday of the present reigning emperor. Emperor Akihito was born on 23 December, therefore the Emperor’s Birthday (Tenno Tanjobi) is celebrated on this day, since 1989.

On this day the Imperial Palace gives home to a public ceremony and on this occasion the general public can enter the palace. The members of the Imperial Family congratulate the Emperor publicly. During this, the audience waves Japanese flags.


Leave a Reply