Tag Archives: Spring Equinox

Vernal Equinox

19 Mar

Tomorrow, 2013 March 20th, is 春分の日 (Vernal (or Spring) Equinox).

shunbun

春分の日 (Vernal Equinox) is in the third week of March.
This is one of two days per year that both day and night are an equal twelve hours. It’s also commonly considered the first day of spring (in the northern hemisphere).

This day is a legal holiday in Japan. So, most people have the day off from work or school.

Six month later, in September, is 秋分の日 (Autumn Equinox). That is the other day that both day and night are an equal twelve hours long.
It’s commonly considered the first day of Autumn.
And it is also a legal holiday in Japan.

There is also, of course, 夏至 (Summer Solstice) in June. Daylight is longest on this day. It’s the first day of summer.
And, 冬至 (Winter Solstice) in December. Nighttime is longest on this day. It’s the beginning of winter.

Although both Spring and Autumn Equinoxes are holidays in Japan…oddly, neither Summer or Winter Solstice are.

Maybe you’re wondering how Spring and Autumn Equinoxes are “celebrated” in Japan.
On these days, many people go to their family grave at the cemetery to clean the grave, leave flowers and incense, and remember their ancestors.

You can balance an egg today

23 Sep

Last Monday was a holiday in Japan, called 「敬老の日」 (“Respect For The Elderly Day“). On this day, people often give gifts to their elderly parents or grandparents. Many kindergartens invite grandparents to have lunch at the school with their grandchildren.

Shoulder massages are common "gifts" to grandparents on this day.

Today is another holiday in Japan…「秋分の日」 (“Autumn Equinox“).  On this day in Japan, and on the 「春分の日」 (“Spring Equinox“) in March, it is common for people to visit their family graves to pay respects.  This custom is called 「彼岸の中日」 (“Higan-no-chuu-nichi“).

The actual date of 「春分の日」 (Spring Equinox) and 「秋分の日」 (Autumn Equinox) varies slightly. Spring Equinox is around March 20 or 21 and Autumn Equinox is usually September 22 or 23. I read online that in 1931, the Autumn Equinox occurred on September 24 and the next time it will occur on that date will be in the year 2303.

But in Japan, 「春分の日」 (Spring Equinox) is always celebrated on March 20th and 「秋分の日」 (Autumn Equinox) is always on September 23rd. The only time the dates change is when one of those dates fall on a Sunday…then the holiday is observed the next day.

「敬老の日」 (“Respect For The Elderly Day“) is celebrated on the third Monday of September. Last year that holiday and 「秋分の日」 (Autumn Equinox) were only one day apart, so the Japanese government made the day between them a one-time temporary holiday so that most people in Japan could have a five-day holiday period that was called “Silver Week“.
(I wrote a post about last year’s “Silver Week” here.)

Yesterday someone asked me if the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes were holidays in America like they are in Japan, and how they’re observed in America.

I know that Spring and Autumn Equinox, as well as Summer and Winter Solstice in June and December, aren’t legal holidays in America. But they’re considered the date that the seasons change. Americans say that the first day of Winter is around December 21, the first day of Spring is around March 20, the first day of Summer is around June 21 and the first day of Autumn is around September 23.
So, in America, today is the first day of Autumn.

In Japan, the first day of every three months is considered to be the beginning of the next season.
Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn each start on December 1st, March 1st, June 1st and September 1st, respectively.

But maybe the American dates are more accurate. Because yesterday was a very hot and sunny day in Tokyo. It was about 33°C.
But today is a bit cold and rainy. The temperature dropped down to 23°C! And tomorrow is forecast to be even colder…20°C.

Another thing that is said about the equinoxes in America is that they are the only days of the year that you can balance on egg upright.

I don’t know where that came from. But it’s an American urban legend that eggs can be easily balanced on the day of an equinox.

How is Autumn Equinox (and Spring Equinox) celebrated in your country?

(Also, if you want to know more about Japanese holidays, read my F.A.Q.).

卒業式

19 Mar

Today was my second daughter’s 中学校の卒業式 (junior high school graduation ceremony).

In early April (after Spring Break), she’ll start high school.

Last year at this time, my oldest daughter graduated from junior high. (Click here to read the post I wrote about that day).

In America, high school starts at grade nine…but in Japan, elementary school is six years (America is only five), then three years of junior high, and three years of high school.
It totals twelve years just like in America but high school in Japan starts at the equivalent to grade ten in the U.S.

Last week she and her friends from school went to Tokyo Disneyland together.

Tokyo Disneyland was having it’s annual 「春のキャンパスデー」 (“Campus Day”).

This promotion is from 2010 January 4 – March 19.
So it ended today.

On Campus Day, students can buy a 「キャンパスデーパスポート」 (“Campus Day Passport“) to enter the park at a discounted price.

The price for junior high and high school students is usually ¥5,000 but during this campaign it’s only ¥4,000 for them.
College students usually pay ¥5,800 admission to Tokyo Disney, but on Campus Day the price is ¥4,500.
Of course, to qualify for these discount prices students must show their student ID card.

I grew up in Florida. Not too far from Orlando Disney World, but I’m not sure if they have “Campus Day Passports” there or not.

Have you ever been to any of the Disney parks in the world? What types of sale promotions do they have?

About five years ago, Tokyo Disneyland began going by the name “Tokyo Disney Resort because they built a second park.

So Tokyo Disney Resort comprises both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea.
They are next to each other, but they’re two separate parks.

————

So, at my daughter’s junior high school, the students who graduated today are now on Spring Break.
They’ll start high school in a few weeks.

My other two daughters have another week of school before their spring break starts.
But this is a three-day weekend. Monday is 「春分の日」 (Spring Equinox), which is a holiday in Japan.

Spring customs

13 Mar

I don’t remember most of the lesser known American holidays, so correct me if I’m wrong.
But, as I remember, in America there are some spring customs but no legal holidays.

First, February 2 is “Groundhog Day” in America.
A groundhog is a type of マーモット…

A groundhog.

Not to be confused with 「モルモット」, which means “guinea pig” in Japanese.

A guinea pig.

In America, on Groundhog Day people watch a groundhog to see if he leaves his burrow or not.
If he does, that’s supposed to mean that spring will start soon…if he returns to his burrow after sticking his head out, that means the cold winter weather will continue longer.

At least that’s how I remember it. It’s an odd custom.

April 1st is called “April Fool’s Day“.

On this day in America, people play practical jokes on each other…if someone falls for one of these practical jokes, then he’s labeled a “fool” for the day–the “April Fool“.

Also Easter, I believe, is on the first Sunday of April.
This is a religious Christian holiday.
Many people in America, Canada (and maybe some European countries too) paint Easter eggs and “the Easter Bunny” gives baskets of chocolate to children.

School students get a week or so “Spring Break” holiday from school…but it’s not the end of the school year yet (as it is in Japan). Summer Break is the end of the U.S. school year.

In Japan spring is different.
Here, the school year ends in March and begins after spring in April.
Students in Japan who will be starting high school or college must take Entrance Exams. (My second daughter passed her Entrance Exam and will be starting high school next month).

At almost the same time as Groundhog Day in the U.S., Japan has Setsubun on February 2nd every year.

In March, Japan has Doll Festival on March 3rd, and White Day on March 14th (tomorrow). But those aren’t legal holidays (I mean, they’re not days off).
But around March 20th is 「春分の日」 (Spring Equinox) is a legal holiday. This year, Spring Equinox is Sunday, March 21st…so it’ll will be observed the next day—Monday, March 22nd will be a day off.
Many people visit their family grave on this day.

A big holiday season in Japan occurs in spring. It’s called “Golden Week“.
Golden Week is technically May 3rd – May 5th (「憲法記念日」 (Constitution Day), 「緑の日」 (Greenery Day), and 「子供の日」 (Children’s Day) respectively)…but often 「昭和の日」 (Showa Day), which is on April 29th, is included.
So, some people get Golden Week holiday from April 29th – May 5th.

And, of course, a very important springtime custom in Japan is 「花見」 (Cherry-Blossom Viewing).

Anpanman

20 Mar

Yesterday was my oldest daughter’s 中学校の卒業式 (Junior High School graduation ceremony).
After Spring vacation she’ll start her first year of high school (10th grade). I can’t believe how fast my kids are growing up!

Today is 春分の日 (Spring Equinox). (Click here to read my short FAQ about this holiday).

In Japan, both 春分の日 (Spring Equinox) in March and 秋分の日 (Autumn Equinox) in September are holidays, so we have the day off…and they’re days that many people pay a visit to their family gravesite.

So, this morning we went to our family gravesite to leave flowers and pay respects. It’s called 墓参り (Haka-mairi).

After that, we went to the 「アンパンマンとやなせたかし展」 (“Anpanman & Takashi Yanase Exhibit“) at the 日本橋三越本店 (Mitsukoshi Dep’t Store head store in Nihonbashi, Tokyo).

anpanman

やなせ・たかし (Takashi Yanase) is the artist who created the famous and extremely popular children’s cartoon character アンパンマン (Anpanman).
This exhibit at the 日本橋三越本店 (Mitsukoshi Dep’t Store head store in Nihonbashi, Tokyo) is to celebrate やなせ・たかし (Takashi Yanase)’s 60 years of being an artist, the 40th anniversary of the アンパンマン (Anpanman) comic, and the 20th anniversary of the アンパンマン (Anpanman) TV series.

アンパンマン (Anpanman) is about as popular as Mickey Mouse is in Japan. Maybe more.

アンパンマン (Anpanman) is a superhero whose head is made of Anpan, which is a sweet-bean filled bun.
He and his friends (most of whom also have heads made of various types of bread or some other healthy food) fight 「ばいきんまん」 (Germ man) and his partner 「どきんちゃん」 (Dokin-chan) who use various inventions and their army of 「かびるんるん」 (Mildew maniacs) to try and fill the world with germs.
アンパンマン (Anpanman)’s weakness is if his head becomes wet…at which he’s helpless until the friendly baker 「ジャムおじさん」 (Jam-ojisan) makes a new head for him.
「ばいきんまん」 (Germ man)’s weakness is contact with soap.

There are also sub-plots in the story which include:

  • 「どきんちゃん」 (Dokin-chan)’s having an infatuation with アンパンマン (Anpanman)’s friend 「食パンマン」 (Sandwich bread man), much to 「ばいきんまん」 (Germ man)’s chagrin.
  • アンパンマン (Anpanman) helping people in distress. Often by giving them a piece of his head to eat if they’re hungry.
  • and

  • 「ばいきんまん」 (Germ man) gave a black heart to 「ロールパンナちゃん」, the older sister of アンパンマン (Anpanman)’s friend 「メロンパンナちゃん」 (Melon-panna chan). If she sees アンパンマン (Anpanman), her heart turns black and she betrays her friends…but when she sees her sister, her heart turns kind again.
    After she helps her friends, she always leaves to live in solitude for fear of her heart turning black again.

アンパンマン (Anpanman) is very popular with young children in Japan and his image (as well as many of the other characters) can be seen on all sorts of items from toys to clothes to lunchbox sets to just about anything!

アンパンマンの仲間 (Anpanman & friends)

アンパンマンの仲間 (Anpanman & friends)

When my kids were little, they loved アンパンマン (Anpanman).
Last Spring, we visited the 「横浜アンパンマンこどもミュージアム」 (”Yokohama Anpanman Children’s Museum”).
(Click here to read the post I wrote about it).

Click here to visit the 「アンパンマンとやなせたかし展」 (“Anpanman & Takashi Yanase Exhibit“) website (Japanese only).
Click here to visit the official Anpanman website (Japanese only).

and another popular superhero in Japan is Ultraman. I wrote a post about him, too. ( Click here to read it.)

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