Tag Archives: holiday

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.

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Anniversary of Japan’s Foundation

11 Feb

Today is 建国記念日 (Kenkoku-kinenbi). In English, “Anniversary of Japan’s Foundation” or “National Foundation Day”.

kenkoku-kinenbi

In theory, people are meant to reflect on their love of country and what it means to be “Japanese”.
In reality though, hardly anyone does anything special on this day. Many generations ago, it may have been different…but today, it’s just seen as “a day off” to most people.

You can see Japanese flag hung from street lights and also on the front grill of city buses…but that’s not particular to this holiday—that’s done on every national holiday in Japan.

Groundhog Day

2 Feb

In America, it’s Groundhog Day

Autumn is coming

9 Sep

The weather is still hot and humid in Tokyo now, but some signs of Autumn (秋 (Aki) in Japanese) can be seen now that it’s September.

The leaves haven’t begun to change color yet. That’s called 紅葉 (Kouyou) in Japanese and it does happen in late October or so and it’s very beautiful…especially to someone like me who came to Japan from Florida where the leaves on trees are green all year round.

The signs of Autumn that can be see every year in Japan at this time of year are some foods and drinks that can be purchased now.

All of the major domestic beer brewers in Japan offer special seasonal brews at the turn of each of the seasons. Right now, they’re all offering their various Autumn beers.
I currently have in my house a case of Suntory 「秋楽」 (“Aki-raku“) beer.

Suntory "Aki-raku" autumn brew with 6% alcohol!

This beer’s name translates to “Comfortable Autumn”.
Kirin Beer offers a beer in a similar can called 「秋味」 (“Aki-aji“), which means “The Flavor of Autumn”.

Another sign that autumn is near is when McDonalds in Japan offers their special, popular 「月見バーガー」 (“Tsukimi Burger“).
This burger is only available for a limited-time each year in autumn.  And it’s currently on the menu again.

The "Tsukimi Burger" is currently available at McDonalds Japan

The Tsukimi Burger has an egg on it because the egg looks like a full-moon in the sky.
You may wonder what an egg resembling the moon has to do with anything…

But you’d need to understand that for centuries, 月見 (tsukimi)…which means “moon watching”…has been a popular autumn past time in Japan.
月見, autumn moon-gazing parties, are popular and McDonalds capitalized on that and offered a temporary burger for the occasion every year.

Another recent sign that autumn is approaching in Japan is the increasing number of stores that put up Halloween decorations.
When I came to Japan in 1990, Halloween was unheard of here…but, recently, it’s become much more well-known. But it’s still not really celebrated. Going “Trick ‘R Treating” around the neighborhood isn’t done here, and private homes aren’t decorated. But many stores capitalize on the western holiday and put up Halloween decorations in an attempt to draw customers.

Are there unique customs in your country in the transition between seasons?

ハッピー・マンデー制度

19 Jul

Today is 「海の日」 (Sea Day) in Japan.

This is a holiday to remember the sea and all that it provides.
(Click here to read the post I wrote at last year’s 「海の日」 (Sea Day).)

Today is Monday and it’s a national holiday in Japan therefore Japan has a three-day weekend now. 「海の日」 (Sea Day) is always on a Monday, so it’s always a three-day weekend.

But it wasn’t always like this.

Actually when I first came to Japan, there was no 「海の日」 (Sea Day) holiday. There were no holidays in Japan during July at all.

This holiday started a few years after I came here. And it was always on the 20th of July.

Then about six or seven years ago, the Japanese government decided to start what is called the 「ハッピー・マンデー制度」 (“Happy Monday System“) in Japan.

Under this system, all national holidays that don’t fall on a date that can’t be changed (such as the Emperor’s Birthday, New Year’s, etc) now fall on the closest Monday.

So now 「海の日」 (Sea Day) is on the third Monday of July rather than July 20.

There are a few other holidays on the 「ハッピー・マンデー制度」 (“Happy Monday System“) as well.
These are 「成人の日」 (“Adults Day”) in January, 「敬老の日」 (“Respect For The Aged Day”), and 「体育の日」 (“Sports Day”).

Does your country have a system for holidays on a Monday to make three-day-weekends?

潮干狩り

3 May

As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is now the “Golden Week” holidays in Japan.

It is popular during this week for people to go on trips. Many people who live in Tokyo are going to other parts of Japan or overseas and many Japanese who live in other parts of Japan are in Tokyo now to see the big city.

Today in particular is the holiday 「健保記念日」 (“Constitution Day“). (Click here to read my FAQ about it).

The weather has been warm and sunny since Golden Week started and it’s forecast to continue with the beautiful weather for the entire Golden Week holidays.

The TV news said today that this is the first time in twenty-five years that it hasn’t rained at least one day of Golden Week!

At this time of year, 「潮干狩り」 (“Clam digging”) is popular in Japan.
Many people, especially retired people and families, buy “Clam digging sets” (which include a net bag to hold the clams, a bucket, a small shovel and a gardening fork) and go to the shore and hunt for clams.

The popular places get quite crowded…especially in the Tokyo area and especially during the holidays.

Well, we made plans to go 「潮干狩り」 (clam digging) yesterday. We bought the supplies for the five of us to hunt for clams and we woke up early yesterday and headed to one of the most popular clam digging spots in the Tokyo Bay.

It was extremely crowded but we live in Tokyo so we’re all used to the crowds. It doesn’t faze us.
And besides, my daughters are growing up…I enjoy spending as much time with them as possible before they have their own families.

Also, yesterday was my youngest daughter’s fourteenth birthday. I can’t believe the “baby” of my family is already 14!
So, after our fun day of clam digging (we took home almost 2kg of clams!), my youngest daughter requested to go to a カラオケボックス (“Karaoke box”)…which are private rooms to sing karaoke where only your group can hear you sing…so that’s what we did.

Then we went home and my wife and daughters made spaghetti with clams (that we caught) for my daughter’s “birthday dinner”.

It was a great day!

Here are a couple photos I took during our clam digging. Every other photo I took was of my family digging clams but I don’t put photos of my family online…so I’m only posting these two pictures.
But you can see how crowded it was.

プリズン・ブレイク

22 Nov

It’s a three-day weekend in Japan now.
Tomorrow is 「勤労感謝の日」 (“Labor Day“) in Japan. (Click here to see my short FAQ about this holiday.)

My daughters heard that the American TV series 「プリズン・ブレイク」 (“Prison Break“) is good.
The first four seasons are currently available for rental on DVD at stores in Japan.

So we rented the first four episodes of season one of this series.
We’re gonna watch it tonight.

I haven’t watched an American TV series in years. We watch normal Japanese TV shows.

Have you seen this American show? Is it good? (Don’t tell me how it ends 😉 ).

And then tomorrow, the five of us are gonna go to a nearby park, play catch and have a picnic lunch together.
My kids are teenagers now, so they spend alot of their free-time with their friends…but we try to enjoy time together as a family.