Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Public Holidays in Japan

Yesterday was a Public Holiday in Japan to mark the Health and Sports Day. On my first blog after this holiday I decided to write about the Public Holidays in Japan.

Japan has a list of Public Holidays which were established under the Public Holidays Law. To begin with there are 15 Public Holidays . Few of these holidays are in quick succession and as such there are weeklong holidays about twice a year. As per the Public Holidays Law, if any public Holiday falls on a Sunday, the next working day shall be a public holiday in that year. This is called "Furikae Kyujitsu" or Transfer Holiday. Also, any day which falls between two other national holidays shall also become a Public Holiday. These kind of holidays are called "Kokumin no Kyujitsu" or Citizens Holiday.

The list of Public Holidays in Japan is given below:

Japanese name
New Year Day
1st January
Usually the period from Dec 29 to Jan-1 is New Year Holiday Season ( Shogatsu)
Coming of Age Day
Seijin No Hi
Second Monday of January
Celebrating the age of attaining majority – 20. Was celebrated on 15th January till 2000 .
National Foundation Day
Kenkoku Kinen No Hi
February 11
Commemorating the establishment of the nation
Vernal Equinox
Shunbun No Hi
Around March 20
Day for admiring nature and love of living things
Showa Day
Showa No Hi
April 29
This day was celebrated as the Emperor Hirohito’s birthday till his death in 1989.  Was celebrated as Greenery Day from 1990 to 2007. From 2007 it is celebrated as day of reflecting on the events of the Showa period
Constitution Memorial Day
Kenpo Kinenbi
May 3
Commemorating the day on which Japan’s post-war constitution came into effect. Is Part of Golden Week
Greenery Day
Midori No Hi
May 4
For expressing gratefulness to nature. Is part of Golden Week
Children’s Day
Kodomo No Hi
May 5
Special significance for Boys . Marks the end of Golden Week
Marine Day
Umi No Hi
Third Monday of July
Day of gratitude for the blessings of the oceans
Respect for the Aged Day
Keiro No Hi
Third Monday of September
Day to respect the elderly and to celebrate long life.
Autumnal Equinox
Shubun No Hi
Around September 23
Day of Honoring the ancestors and remembering the dead
Health and Sports Day
Taiiku No Hi
Second Monday of October
Day to enjoy sports and cultivate healthy mind and body
Culture Day
Bunka No Hi
November 3
Commemorates the announcement of the Constitution and is celebrated as a day to celebrating peace and freedom and promoting culture
Labour Thanksgiving Day
Kinro Kansha No Hi
November 23
Originally an Harvest festival, it is now celebrated as an occasion for praising labour and celebrating a good harvest. International labour day ( May 1) is not a public holiday in Japan and Labour day is celebrated along with Thanksgiving on Nov 23.
Emperor’s Birthday
Tenno Tanjobi
December 23
Birthday of reigning Emperor Akihito

Though not included in the list above, December 25th is a widely celebrated holiday for Christmas Day
Apart from these holidays, companies these days also have week long summer vacations in August. These are usually during the peak summer and around the time of the Fireworks Festival and O-bon Festival.

A lot of thinking is involved in just about anything in Japan. This holds true even in case of Public Holidays. A good example of this is the "Happy Monday System". This was a decision taken by the Japanese government towards the beginning of the new millenium. Under this system about five public holidays were moved to Mondays. The Holidays which were moved from their traditional date to a certain monday are: Coming of Age Day, Marine Day, Respect for the Aged Day, Health and Sports Day.

Holidays are peak travel times in Japan. The Golden Week ( April 29th to May 5th)  and O-Bon Holidays are especially popular travel seasons and driving on the expressways can be a pain. Planning for train or air travel needs to be done months in advance. International Airfares to and from Japan around these holidays are expensive and at times airfares can be double the normal fares. Hotel bookings at popular tourist destinations can be difficult to find and expensive too.

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