What Are Some Holiday Traditions in Japan?

Japan is a country rich in culture, with a long history of traditions that are celebrated throughout the year. It’s no secret that the Japanese enjoy celebrating holidays, and they have many unique and interesting customs that are worth exploring.

So, what are some of the holiday traditions in Japan? Here are a few that you might find particularly fascinating.

New Year’s Day (Shogatsu)

In Japan, New Year’s Day is one of the most important holidays of the year. It’s a time for families to come together, reflect on the past year, and make plans for the year ahead. Most businesses are closed during this time, and people take the opportunity to relax and spend time with loved ones.

One of the most important customs associated with New Year’s Day is the visit to the local shrine or temple to pray for health, happiness, and prosperity in the coming year. It’s also customary to eat traditional foods like rice cake (mochi) and drink special sake (otoshidama) during the celebrations.

Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi)

Children’s Day is another important holiday in Japan, celebrated on May 5th. Originally known as Tango no Sekku, this day is meant to celebrate the health, happiness, and wellbeing of children.

One of the most famous traditions associated with Children’s Day is the flying of koinobori, or carp-shaped windsocks, outside of homes and businesses. The carp is a symbol of strength and perseverance, and it is believed that by flying the koinobori, children will grow up strong and healthy.

Tanabata (Star Festival)

Tanabata is a romantic holiday that celebrates the reunion of two stars, Vega and Altair, who are separated for most of the year by the Milky Way. The festival is celebrated on July 7th and is also known as the Star Festival.

One of the most interesting traditions associated with the Tanabata festival is the writing of wishes on colorful strips of paper (tanzaku) and hanging them on bamboo branches. People of all ages write their wishes for love, health, success, and happiness, with the hope that they will come true.

Obon Festival

The Obon Festival is a time when Japanese people honor the spirits of their ancestors. It is celebrated in mid-August and is a time for families to come together and perform traditional dances (bon odori) to welcome back their loved ones who have passed away.

During the Obon Festival, many people return to their hometowns and visit the graves of their ancestors. They light lanterns and candles to guide the spirits back to the world of the living and offer food, drink, and other gifts as a sign of respect.


Japan is a country that is steeped in tradition, and its many holiday customs are a testament to that fact. From New Year’s Day to the Obon Festival, these holidays provide a window into the culture and values of the Japanese people.

Whether you’re a visitor to Japan or a resident, taking part in these traditions is a way to experience the beauty and richness of this incredible country. So why not immerse yourself in the festivities and make some memories that will last a lifetime?

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