Tag Archives: Japanese holidays

Valentine Pizza

14 Feb

Today is Valentines Day.

Japan celebrates Valentines Day too…but not the same way as in America and other western countries.

Also, Japan has an “original” holiday one month later that is more similar to America’s Valentines Day.

Click here to read a post that I wrote three years ago that explains Valentines Day and White Day in Japan.

In addition to what I wrote in that post, Dominos Pizza in Japan offers a heart-shaped pizza for Valentines Day.

valentine-pizza

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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.

Valentines Day pt.2

14 Mar

Today (March 14) is ホワイトディ (“White Day”) in Japan.

whiteday

In Japan, Valentines Day is on February 14th like it is in the West…but, here, women give chocolate (often homemade) to men.
And then one month later, on March 14th, men repay the women with a present…it’s called “White Day”.

Men give women candy or some other gift on White Day in Japan…so, this day is actually more similar to Valentines Day in the West than Japanese Valentines Day is.

Click here to read a post that I wrote that explains a bit more about Valentines Day and White Day in Japan.

Top 5 X-mas Illuminations in Japan

21 Nov

In Japan, Christmas isn’t a national holiday. If December 25th falls on a weekday then it’s just a normal workday in Japan.

But that said, クリスマス (X-mas) is still a big holiday in Japan. Not the biggest though…the most important holiday in Japan is 正月 (New Years).

I wrote a post before that explains a bit about Christmas in Japan…and another one that explains a bit about New Years in Japan.

To summarize though, Christmas isn’t the same in Japan as it is in Western countries.
Even though New Years is Japan’s biggest holiday, stores and streets in Japan put up X-mas decorations on November 1st (as soon as the Halloween decorations come down) and take them down on December 26th.
On December 26th in Japan, the Xmas decorations are quickly replaced with New Years decorations which stay up until around January 5th.
So Japan is decorated for the imported holiday of Christmas for fifty-six days but only about two weeks for New Years.

Basically the image of X-mas in Japan is a romantic evening for couples on クリスマス・イヴ (Christmas Eve) and a day for families with children on クリスマス (Christmas Day).

One of the popular dates spots for couples on and before X-mas Eve is to look at クリスマス・イルミネーション (X-mas lights (or, as they’re called in Japan, “Christmas illumination“)).

X-mas illumination at "Roppongi Hills" in downtown Tokyo.

There is a website that shows some of the best 「全国イルミネーション・スポット」 (Illumination Spots around Japan).

One part of that website lists 「イルミネーションおすすめスポット Best 5」 (“Top 5 Recommended Illumination Spots”).

The list is:

  • 六本木ヒルズ Artelligent Christmas 2010」 (“Roppongi Hills Artelligent Christmas 2010” in Tokyo, Japan)
  • 神戸ルミナリェ」 (“Kobe Luminarie” in Kobe, Japan)
  • 2010SENDAI光のページェント」 (“2010 Sendai Light Pageant” in Sendai, Japan)
  • 第30回さっぽろホワイトイルミネーション」 (“30th Sapporo White Illumination” in Sapporo, Japan)
  • OSAKA光のルネサンス2010」 (“Osaka Light Renaissance 2010” in Osaka, Japan)

Also, check out this post that I wrote with photos of the X-mas illumination at Tokyo Tower and in Roppongi, Tokyo.
And also this one that I wrote about Omotesando, Tokyo turning the X-mas illumination back on last year after eleven years of not decorating.

How is Christmas celebrated where you live? Are stores already decorated for X-mas? Is looking at 「クリスマス・イルミネーション」 (X-mas lights) popular?

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.).

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?