Japanese Holidays

2004 (HEISEI 16*)


2004 Japanese Holidays
Month Date Holiday English Equivalent Comments
January 1 Ganjitsu New Years Day 1st to 3rd are observed as New Years Holidays.
January 12 Seijin no hi Coming of Age Day Age of Majority = 20
February 11 Kenkoku kinen no hi Founding of the Nation Day --
March 20 Shumbun no hi Start of Spring (Vernal Equinox) --
April 29 Midori no hi Green Day Environmental Focus
May 3 Kenpo Kinenbi Constitution Day --
May 5 Kodomo no hi Children's Day --
June -- -- -- No Holidays
July 19 Umi no Hi Sea Day (Marine Day) --
August -- -- -- Festival of the Dead: See below
September 20 Keiro no hi Respect for the Aged Day --
September 23 Shubun no hi Fall Equinox --
October 11 Taiiku no hi Physical Fitness Day Many companies have Field Days on this day.
November 3 Bunka no hi Culture Day --
November 23 Kinro Kansha no hi Labor Day --
December 23 Tenno Tanjobi Emperor's Birthday --

* The 16th year of the present emperor's reign. The year of the emperor is used on most Japanese legal documents.

Beginning with the year 2000, the Japanese Diet changed a number of holidays to create 3-day weekends in order to stimulate consumer spending and travel. Thus, you will see many holidays falling on days different from those in prior years.

There are 3 major holiday seasons in Japan: New Years; Golden Week; and Obon (Festival of the Dead).

New Years is generally celebrated from the 31st of December (New Years Eve: omisoka ) through the 5th of January. Most businesses are closed during the period from the 31st of December through the 3rd of January.

Golden Week is named after the string of holidays which occur from the end of April through the 1st week of May. It is not unusual for companies to close to include the interim days to give employees an entire week off, although there is a tendency to close only on calendar listed holidays developing due to the economy.

The Festival of the Dead is celebrated from the 13th of August through the 15th in West Japan. Sections of East Japan celebrate it at the end of July. Many companies are closed during this time, although again, as in the case of Golden Week, there are companies which are breaking with tradition.

Travel during any of the 3 main holiday seasons often brings with it increased prices in food and lodging. Local hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops often charge special holiday prices during these periods. Airlines and tour agencies also have increased rates during the seasons.

Roads and long distance trains are extremely crowded at the beginning and end of each holiday period. Bullet trains pack people in on a standing room only basis in the economy sections, so be prepared to stand if you don't have reservations during this period. Freeways have traffic jams extending as long as 70 km (43.5 miles) and rest areas on the freeway are packed.

Copyright, A.E.L.S., Inc. (Billy Hammond), 2003.