Special Holidays Celebrated in Japan

Japan is a country steeped in traditions and culture. As such, it is not surprising that the country has many unique and exciting holidays that are celebrated throughout the year. From ancient religious festivals to modern cultural events, Japan’s holidays are an interesting mix of the old and new. Let’s take a closer look at some of the special holidays celebrated in Japan.

New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day, or “Ganjitsu” is one of the most important holidays in Japan. Celebrated on January 1st, the day marks the beginning of a new year and is seen as a time for reflection and renewal. Leading up to the holiday, many people clean their homes and decorate with “Kadomatsu” – bamboo and pine decorations placed outside homes and buildings. On New Year’s Day, families gather to eat traditional foods like “Mochi” (rice cakes) and “Osechi” (special New Year’s dishes) and visit shrines and temples to pray for good luck in the coming year.

Golden Week

Golden Week is a collection of four national holidays that take place during the end of April and beginning of May. This period is a popular time for travel and is characterised by large crowds and busy tourist destinations. The four holidays include Showa Day (April 29th), Constitution Memorial Day (May 3rd), Greenery Day (May 4th), and Children’s Day (May 5th). Each day has its unique significance and is celebrated across the country.


Tanabata, also known as the “Star Festival,” is celebrated on July 7th. The festival originated from a Chinese legend about two lovers who were separated by the Milky Way and only able to meet once a year on this day. To celebrate, people hang colourful decorations called “Tanzaku” (strips of paper) on bamboo branches and make wishes for the future. There are also fireworks displays and parades in many cities around Japan.


Obon is a traditional Buddhist festival that takes place in mid-August. The holiday is dedicated to honouring ancestors and is a time for families to come together and remember their loved ones who have passed away. To celebrate, people light “Bonfires” outside their homes and visit graves to clean and offer food and flowers. Obon is also characterised by traditional dances called “Bon-Odori,” which are performed throughout the country.


Shichi-Go-San, meaning “Seven-Five-Three,” is a traditional rite of passage for children aged 3, 5, and 7. Celebrated on November 15th, children dress up in kimono and visit shrines and temples with their families to pray for good health and a bright future. The holiday is a time of celebration and joy, with many families taking photos to commemorate the special occasion.

In conclusion, Japan has a rich cultural heritage and a diverse range of holidays that are celebrated throughout the year. From ancient religious festivals to modern cultural events, each holiday is unique and offers an opportunity to experience Japanese traditions and customs.

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