Japanese Holidays and How They Are Celebrated

Japan is one of the fastest growing countries in tourism in the last decade. In 2018 alone, over 30 million people visited Japan according to the Telegraph – a rise of 263 per cent from 2010. Japan is now the 11th most visited country on the planet but choosing when to visit can be difficult – there are so many different festivals and holidays that you might want to see. You can learn more about some of our favourite annual events below.

Christmas

Christmas in Japan is quite different to the way Christmas is celebrated in England. For example, Christmas is considered more of a romantic holiday in Japan, and businesses don’t typically take the day off to celebrate it. In fact, Christmas eve is often considered more important by most people celebrating the holiday, as a time when gifts are exchanged between romantic couples.

We’ve previously written on Japanese Christmas Traditions, and we’ve also written a blog on how you can combine elements of Japan into your Christmas celebrations this year. We also have a special festive menu in our menu section for you to look forward to if you’re dining with us this December.

Snow is falling, Christmas Street tree night light and illumination view on trees, see the yacht from top hill on road direct to Hakodate Harbor at Motomachi Area, Hokkaido, Japan.

New Year

Food is a very important part of Japanese celebrations, and New Year is no different in this respect. The food consumed for New Year even has its own name, Oeschi Ryouri. Exactly what this entails differs from region to region, as Japan is a varied country with lots of history and culture.

If you want to understand more about Japan’s many regions and the types of food consumed there, we recommend that you read our Japanese Culture and Food series on our blog. We’ve looked at Hokkaido, Miyagi, Iwate, and many more!

As part of the celebrations, Buddhist temples across the country ring bells 108 times. This is once for every sin in Buddhist belief, and the bell ringing is thought to cleanse those sins from the citizens. The bells are rung 107 times on the 31st, and one final time after midnight in the New Year.

 

Adult’s Day

Every second Monday of January brings the celebration of adult’s day. This is a festival that celebrates the coming of age for many young people and is recognised as a chance for young adults to celebrate their youth and maturation.

To celebrate this day, 20-year olds don their smartest traditional clothing (although many men are choosing to wear suits instead of the typical kimono in recent years) and then attend coming of age ceremonies. The ceremony often includes an after-party with family and friends. 20 is Japan’s legal age for drinking, driving, smoking and gambling.

The holiday was originally celebrated every January 15th, but this was changed to be the second Monday of January as part of a policy that aimed to afford Japanese workers more three-day weekends.

Mount Fuji and Sunrise with Red and white plum

Respect for the Elderly Day

Celebrating and recognising age is important in Japan, and this particular holiday has been celebrated as a national holiday since 1966. Occurring on the third Monday of September, the media takes effort to highlight old people on this day by celebrating some of the oldest living people in the country.

In 1963, the government sent a silver sake cup to everyone who reached the age of 100. Since 1963, however, substantially more Japanese have been living past 100 years – 1963 saw 153 cups in production, but 2014 called for almost 30 thousand – so the government has been considering alternatives to this tradition.

An old couple walking in the park

Others

There are plenty of other Japanese celebrations and festivals that we haven’t been able to mention here but are well worth researching if you’re interested in Japanese culture. Some other popular festivities include Setsubun – celebrating the beginning of spring, Golden Week – four national holidays in one week, Obon – the festival of the dead, and the 7-5-3 Festival – celebrating children of those ages.

Japanese drum Taiko on the stage of the Yaguro. Paper red-white lanterns Chochin Scenery for the holiday Obon.

At our Japanese restaurant in Manchester and our Japanese restaurant in Liverpool we can give you a taste of Japan through our exquisite culinary dishes, but we recommend that you visit our blog regularly for further updates about Japanese culture and food. What’s your favourite Japanese holiday?