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Universal Childrens Day

20 Nov

There is a Japanese holiday on May 5th called 「こどもの日」 (“Children’s Day”), but today (November 20th) is “Universal Children’s Day“.

Google's logo for "Universal Children's Day"

Google’s logo for “Universal Children’s Day”

The Japanese 「こどもの日」 (“Children’s Day”) holiday is a day for parents and grandparents to celebrate their children and hope for their future health and well-being.
Universal Children’s Day is different. As Wikipedia explains:

“…Universal Children’s Day is not simply a day to celebrate children for who they are, but to bring awareness to children around the globe that have succumbed to violence in forms of abuse, exploitation and discrimination…”

Japan does have an event for children around this time every November. For girls aged three and seven, and for boys aged five, Japanese celebrate 「七五三」 (“Shichi-Go-San”) (Click here to read my short explanation of it.)

Every November, you can see young kids in Japan dressed in kimono for 「七五三」 ("Shichi-Go-San").

Every November, you can see young kids in Japan dressed in kimono for 「七五三」 (“Shichi-Go-San”).

Silver Week

21 Sep

Today is a Japanese public holiday called 「敬老の日」. In English, it means “Respect For Elders Day“. Sometimes it’s called “Grandparents Day“.
It occurs on the third Monday of September. (When I first came to Japan, this holiday was on September 15th, but was changed around fifteen years ago).

Google Japan's logo shows Japanese bento lunches made for "Grandma & Grandpa" today.

Google Japan’s logo shows Japanese bento lunches made for “Grandma & Grandpa” today.

And, on September 23rd is 「秋分の日」 (Autumn Equinox). In Japan, the Spring and Autumn equinoxes are days to pay a visit to the family grave-site.

So, on years like this year…where these two holidays fall close together, the day between them becomes a “filler holiday” to make a series of consecutive days off similar to Japan’s “Golden Week” in Spring.
Golden Week is an annual occurrence…but a long holiday period only occurs occasionally in September. When it does, it’s called “Silver Week“.

Right now, Japan is in Silver Week. Most people have holiday from last Saturday until Wednesday.
The next Silver Week won’t occur until 2026!

Today is Setsubun

3 Feb

今日は「節分」。(Today is “Setsubun“).

Google’s Japanese page has a “Setsubun” logo today.

Setsubun is a day to cast out bad luck and bring in good luck. It involves an old tradition of throwing beans at someone wearing a demon mask representing bad luck.

It’s mostly done in homes with young children, in which the children throw the beans at their father wearing the oni (demon) mask.

Click here to read about this, and other Japanese customs and holidays in February.

Happy New Year 2015

1 Jan

It’s now midnight on New Years Day 2015.
Happy New Year!

In Japan, New Years is the biggest holiday. There are many traditions, customs, decoration and a special meal with family.
2014 was the “Year of the Horse”…but it’s now the beginning of 2015 “the Year of the Sheep“.

2014 “Year of the Horse” passing the baton to 2015 “Year of the Sheep”

明けましておめでとうございます! (“Happy New Year!“)
How did you celebrate the New Year?

(The above image is from プロ年賀状 (“Pro New Years Postcards”) website.)

Xmas Sky Tree

24 Dec

It’s クリスマス・イヴ (Xmas Eve) in Japan now.
My wife and I went to the Tokyo Sky Tree, the world’s tallest tower, which was illuminated in green for Xmas.

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メリー・クリスマス (Merry Xmas).

Most popular Mothers Day gifts

10 May

Tomorrow (2014 May 11th) is 母の日 (Mothers Day ).

Did you buy your mother a gift?
At least say 「お母さん、ありがとう!」 (“Thank you, Mother!“)

What are the most popular gifts that people buy for their mothers on this day in Japan and in America?

As I’m sure you can imagine, the types of gifts that Japanese people buy for Mothers Day are quite different from what is commonly bought in America!

Here is a list of this year’s top ten Mothers Day gifts in America and then a list of this year’s top ten Mothers Day gifts in Japan:

 

Top Ten Mothers Day gifts in America

#10 – Flowers
#9 – Candles
#8 – Gift card (gift certificate)
#7 – Gift basket
basket
#6 – Home spa treatment
#5 – Home decor items
#4 – Chocolate or other sweets
choco
#3 – House plants
#2 – Perfume
#1 – Spa treatment

Top Ten Mothers Day gifts in Japan

#10 – 「バスグッズ」 (Bath items)
#9 – 「花」 (Flowers)
#8 – 「ネックレス」 (Necklace)
#7 – 「傘」 (Umbrella)
kasa
#6 – 「名入れグッズ」 (Personalized items)

sake

(This wine bottle says “Mother, thanks for everything” and her name.)

#5 – 「家電」 (Home appliance)
#4 – 「財布」 (Wallet)
#3 – 「バッグ」 (Handbag / purse)
#2 – 「キッチングッズ」 (Kitchenware)
#1 - 「マッサージ器」 (Massaging item (massage chair, etc))
chair

What are popular Mothers Day gifts in your country?

Greenery Day or Star Wars Day

4 May

It is now “Golden Week” in Japan.

April 29th was “Showa Day”. It’s called that because it was the late Showa-era Emperor’s birthday, and celebrated as such until he died 26 years ago.

May 3rd (yesterday) was “Constitution Day”. The day Japan’s post-WWII constitution was adapted.

Today, May 4th is “Greenery Day”. The day to appreciate nature.

Originally after the Showa Emperor died,  April 29th was Greenery Day because that Emperor loved nature, and May 4th was “Residents Holiday”… but it was changed about twelve years ago.

Tomorrow, May 5th is “Children’s Day”.

This year, because today is a Sunday and therefore today’s holiday is kinda ‘lost’ since it’s already a day off for most people… Tuesday, May 6th is also a day off. It’s “Greenery Day observed”.

Collectively, this holiday period is known as “Golden Week”.

Also, the new upcoming Star Wars movie (Episode VII), with the most famous faces from the first three Star Wars movies returning in their 60s or 70s will be in theaters in Japan and other countries in December 2015.

It seems that Star Wars fans around the world call May 4th (today) “Star Wars Day” because the date, May the Fourth, sounds like the well-known quote from Star Wars, “May The Force (Be With You)”.

Fellow KISS fan here in Japan, “Naokiss “, found an ad in today’s newspaper for the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII that explained that today is 「スターウォーズの日」(Star Wars Day):

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