Cultural and Holiday Days

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Cultural Days and Holidays

The following is just a list of cultural events and holidays that Japan celebrates. Certain RP events may happen on these days, or if you have an idea for an event, please contact staff via +request!

Thanks to: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2062.html for the information!



The New Year - January 1st

New Year is the most important holiday in Japan. Most businesses shut down from January 1 to January 3, and families typically gather to spend the days together. Years are traditionally viewed as completely separate, with each new year providing a fresh start. Consequently, all duties are supposed to be completed by the end of the year, while bonenkai parties ("year forgetting parties") are held with the purpose of leaving the old year's worries and troubles behind.

Homes and entrance gates are decorated with ornaments made of pine, bamboo and plum trees, and clothes and houses are cleaned. On New Year's eve, toshikoshi soba (buckwheat noodles), symbolizing longevity, are served. A more recent custom is watching the music show "kohaku uta gassen", a highly popular television program featuring many of Japan's most famous J-pop and enka singers in spectacular performances.

January 1 is a very auspicious day, best started by viewing the new year's first sunrise (hatsu-hinode), and traditionally believed to be representative for the whole year that has just commenced. Therefore, the day is supposed be full of joy and free of stress and anger, while everything should be clean and no work should be done.

It is a tradition to visit a shrine or temple during shogatsu (hatsumode). The most popular temples and shrines, such as Tokyo's Meiji Shrine, attract several million people during the three days. Most impressive are such visits at the actual turn of the year, when large temple bells are rung at midnight.

Various kinds of special dishes are served during shogatsu. They include osechi ryori, otoso (sweetened rice wine) and ozoni (a soup with mochi).


Coming of Age: - Second Monday of January

The Coming of Age festival is celebrated on the second Monday of January (it used to be celebrated always on January 15 until the year 1999). Its Japanese name is Seijin no hi. All young people who turn twenty years old in that year are celebrated on Seijin no hi. Twenty is the age considered as the beginning of adulthood. It is also the minimum legal age for voting, drinking and smoking.


Beginning of Spring - February 3rd

Setsubun ("seasonal division") is a festival held on February 3 or 4, one day before the start of spring according to the Japanese lunar calendar. Setsubun is not a national holiday. For many centuries, the people of Japan have been performing rituals with the purpose of chasing away evil spirits at the start of spring.

Around the 13th century, for example, it became a custom to drive away evil spirits by the strong smell of burning dried sardine heads, the smoke of burning wood and the noise of drums. While this custom is not popular anymore, a few people still decorate their house entrances with fish heads and holy tree leaves in order to deter evil spirits from entering.

In modern days, the most commonly performed setsubun ritual is the throwing of roasted beans around one's house and at temples and shrines across the country. When throwing the beans, you are supposed to shout "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" ("Devils out, happiness in"). Afterwards you should pick up and eat the number of beans, which corresponds to your age.


National Foundation Day - February 11th

According to the earliest Japanese history records, on this day in the year 660 BC the first Japanese emperor was crowned.


Valentines Day - February 14th

St. Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14, and White Day one month later on March 14. It is said that St. Valentine's Day was imported to Japan in 1958 by a Japanese confectionery company. In Japan, it is only the women giving presents - mainly chocolate - to men, but not the other way around. Men are supposed to return the favours received on Valentine's Day one month later on White Day, a Japanese creation. White Day is believed to have been introduced by a marshmallow manufacturing company in the 1960s. The white marshmallows gave the day its name but other kinds of presents such as candy, flowers, etc. have become more popular over the years.


Doll’s Festival - March 3rd

The Hina Matsuri or Doll Festival or Girl's Festival is celebrated on March 3. On this day, families with girls wish their daughters a successful and happy life. Dolls are displayed in the house together with peach blossoms. The doll festival has its origin in a Chinese custom in which bad fortune is transferred to dolls and then removed by abandoning the doll on a river. On Hina Matsuri, sweet sake is drunken and chirashi sushi is eaten.


White Day - March 14th

Men are supposed to return the favours received on Valentine's Day one month later on White Day, a Japanese creation. White Day is believed to have been introduced by a marshmallow manufacturing company in the 1960s. The white marshmallows gave the day its name but other kinds of presents such as candy, flowers, etc. have become more popular over the years.


Cherry Blossom Festival - Mid March to Mid April

The celebration of the blooming of the Cherry Blossoms in Japan. Usually, lots of small festivals and viewing picnics will happen around this time of year. On MahouMUSH, this is when we celebrate it!


Spring Equinox Day - March 20th

Graves are visited during the week (ohigan) of the Equinox Day.


The Golden Week - April 29th to May 5th

Showa Day (April 29): April 29 is the birthday of former Emperor Showa, who died in the year 1989. Until 2006, Greenery Day (see May 4) used to be celebrated on this day.

Constitution Day (May 3): On this day in 1947, the new postwar constitution was put into effect.

Greenery Day (May 4 ): Until 2006, Greenery Day used to be celebrated on April 29, the birthday of former Emperor Showa. The day is dedicated to the environment and nature, because the emperor loved plants and nature. Before being declared Greenery Day, May 4 used to be a national holiday due to a law, which declares a day, that falls between two national holidays, a national holiday.

Children's Day (May 5 ): The Boy's Festival (Tango no Sekku) is celebrated on this day. Families pray for the health and future success of their sons by hanging up carp streamers and displaying samurai dolls, both symbolizing strength, power and success in life. The Girl's Festival is celebrated on March 3.


Star Festival - July 7th

Tanabata, also known as the "star festival", takes place on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year, when, according to a Chinese legend, the two stars Altair and Vega, which are usually separated from each other by the milky way, are able to meet. One popular Tanabata custom is to write one's wishes on a piece of paper, and hang that piece of paper on a specially erected bamboo tree, in the hope that the wishes become true.



Ocean Day - Third Monday of July

A recently introduced national holiday to celebrate the ocean. The day marks the return of Emperor Meiji from a boat trip to Hokkaido in 1876.


Mountain Day - August 11th

This national holiday will be newly introduced from the year 2016 to celebrate mountains.


Obon - August 13th to 15th

Obon is an annual Buddhist event for commemorating one's ancestors. It is believed that each year during obon, the ancestors' spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives. Traditionally, lanterns are hung in front of houses to guide the ancestors' spirits, obon dances (bon odori) are performed, graves are visited and food offerings are made at house altars and temples.

At the end of Obon, floating lanterns are put into rivers, lakes and seas in order to guide the spirits back into their world. The customs followed vary strongly from region to region. Obon is observed from the 13th to the 15th day of the 7th month of the year, which is July according to the solar calendar. However, since the 7th month of the year roughly coincides with August rather than July according to the formerly used lunar calendar, Obon is still observed in mid August in many regions of Japan, while it is observed in mid July in other regions.

The Obon week in mid August is one of Japan's three major holiday seasons, accompanied by intensive domestic and international travel activities and increased accommodation rates. In recent years, travel activity in mid August has become somewhat more spread out and less concentrated, but it is still considerable on certain days. On MahouMUSH, we celebrate it in August 13-15th.


Respect for the Aged Day - Third Monday of September

Respect for the elderly and longevity are celebrated on this national holiday.


Autumn Equinox Day - September 23rd

Graves are visited during the week of the Equinox Day.


Health and Sports Day - Second Monday of October

On that day in 1964, the Olympic games of Tokyo were opened. Typical, schools will run sports events on this day.


Culture Day - November 3rd

A day for promotion of culture and the love of freedom and peace. On culture day, schools and the government award selected persons for their special, cultural achievements.



Seven-Five-Three - November 15th

"Shichi Go San" means "Seven Five Three". Girls of age three and seven and boys of age three and five are celebrated on Shichigosan, and it is prayed for their good health and growth. Shichigosan takes place on November 15 and is not a national holiday. On November 15 or the closest weekend, the young people visit a Shinto Shrine dressed up in kimono.

Odd numbers are considered lucky numbers. Long candies in bags that are decorated with turtles and cranes are given to the children. The candy, the crane, and the turtle, all symbolize longevity.


Labor Thanksgiving Day - November 23rd

A national holiday for honoring labour. Celebrate those who work hard for you!


Emperor’s Birthday - December 23rd

The birthday of the current emperor is always a national holiday. If the emperor changes, the national holiday changes to the birthday date of the new emperor.


Christmas 24th-25th

Christmas was initially introduced to Japan with the arrival of the first Europeans in the 16th century. But only in recent decades has the event become widely popular in Japan, and this despite the fact that Christians make up only about two percent of the population.

While Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, more and more people are taking up traditions such as decorating their home, giving presents to friends and celebrating the event with a special meal.

Most enthusiastic about Christmas, however, seem to be retail stores and shopping malls, where Christmas trees, Santa Clauses and other seasonal decorations can be found several weeks in advance. Some public places also feature seasonal illuminations.

The traditional Japanese Christmas food is the Christmas Cake, usually made of sponge cake, strawberries and whipped cream.