National Holidays 2020 Guide

Find out when the main Japan holidays are in 2020

Photo: Frederica Diamanta / Unsplash
By Japan Travel    - 9 min read

Japan is a country that possesses a large number of public holidays and it can be hard to know when they are or what they mean. The country has many holidays only found in Japan and a few international holidays that the Japanese celebrate in unique ways.

Below we have prepared a guide to Japan's 2020 Public holiday schedule; when the holidays are, and what to expect from them - so you can make the best decisions when planning your trip to Japan.

National Holiday Date Description

New Year's Day

元日 / Ganjitsu

1 Jan
Hatsumode visit to the shrine (Photo: <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Dick Thomas Johnson (CC BY 2.0)</a>)
Hatsumode visit to the shrine (Photo: Dick Thomas Johnson (CC BY 2.0))

The most important holiday in Japan. Many businesses close from January 1st - 3rd and traditionally families will often gather to spend these days together. Visiting a shrine on New Year's Eve is customary and the ringing of temple bells can be heard throughout Japan as the clock strikes midnight.

Most shrines and temples throughout the country are at their busiest during this time as people take part in 'Hatsumode'; the year's first visit to a shrine or temple.

Related: Guide to New Years in Japan

Coming of Age Day

成人の日 / Seijin no hi

13 Jan

On the second Monday of every January, Japan celebrates 'Coming of Age Day'/'Adults Day' (Seijin no Hi).

The Holiday is an important rite of passage for Japanese youth entering into adulthood. All those who turned 20 years old in the previous year can partake in a festival; now recognised as an adult by Japanese society.

Related: Coming of Age Dat at Meiji Jingu

National Foundation Day

建国記念の日 / Kenkoku Kinen no Hi

11 Feb

This public holiday is held to commemorate the formation of the nation and the establishment of the imperial line by the first Japanese ruler, Jimmu.

The holiday is rather subdued by Japanese standards, with only a few places holding festivals to celebrate the day. Notable, more Japanese flags, including the national flag, can be found raised and placed outside of homes and establishments.

Emperor’s Birthday

天皇誕生日 / Tenno tanjoubi

Emperor’s Birthday (observed)

23 Feb

24 Feb

This Japanese holiday celebrates the birth of the current emperor of Japan. Emperor’s Birthday is one of only two days during the year that the Imperial Palace is open to the public.

The emperor and empress, as well as other members of the royal family, appear at the balcony of the palace and welcome all visitors that enter and leave the grounds.

Vernal Equinox Day

春分の日 / Shunbun no Hi

20 Mar

The Vernal Equinox (Shunbun no Hi) is a holiday that marks the end of winter and the arrival of spring. The day is intended to celebrate the love of nature and living things.

The holiday maintains its older traditions such as visiting family graves and holding family reunions as a common way to celebrate the day.

Shōwa Day

昭和の日 / Shōwa no Hi

29 Apr
A public holiday where most businesses will be closed, Shōwa Day is a Japanese annual holiday during 'Golden Week' that honours the birthday of Emperor Shōwa, the reigning emperor from 1926 to 1989.

Constitution Memorial Day

憲法記念日 / Kenpō Kinenbi

3 May
Constitution Memorial Day is a national holiday in Japan. It takes place on May 3 and celebrates the enactment of the 1947 Constitution of Japan. Constitution Memorial Day is one of the holidays that makes Japan's Golden Week national vacation.

Greenery Day

みどりの日 / Midori no Hi

4 May
Greenery Day (Midori no Hi) or also referred to as 'In between day'* as it falls between Constitution Memorial Day and Children's Day holidays, Emperor Hirohito's love of plants and nature.

*The Japanese law states that a day that falls between two holidays will also be a holiday.

Children's Day

こどもの日 / Kodomo no Hi

5 May

Children's Day takes place on May 5th and is the final Holiday in the collection of days that make up Golden Week vacation. As the name implies it is a day that celebrates the health and happiness of children.

During this day you will often find colourful carp streamers waving outside in the wind and foods such as Kashiwa-mochi (sticky rice cakes filled with red bean jam and wrapped in oak leaves) and chimaki (sticky sweet rice wrapped in an iris or bamboo leaf) are traditionally served on this day.

Constitution Memorial Day (observed) 6 May
(see Constitution Memorial Day above)

Sea Day

海の日 / Umi no Hi

23 Jul

Also known as Marine Day (Umi no Hi), is a day the island nation of Japan shows appreciation for the sea and ocean that surrounds the land.

Established as a national holiday in 1996, the modern holiday has no particular traditional ceremonies associated with it. However, national aquariums organize special events and cultural activities relating to the sea. Many locals will take advantage of the summer weather and spend the day at the beach.

Sports Day

スポーツの日 / Supōtsu no hi

24 Jul

Sports Day is a national holiday in Japan usually* held every year on the second Monday of each October.

It celebrates the opening of the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo and is held to help promote sports, health and an active lifestyle.

*In 2020, Sports Day (renamed from Health and Sports Day) has been moved to July to coincide the with 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Mountain Day

山の日 / Yama no Hi

10 Aug

Mountain Day is a public holiday held annually on August 11th and began in 2016.

The holiday is designed for individuals to appreciate Japan's mountainous landscape and the blessings that come from it.

Respect for the Aged Day

敬老の日 / Keiro no Hi

21 Sep

Respect for the Aged Day (Keiro-no-Hi) is a Japan's national holiday that honours elderly citizens and is held on the third Monday of every September.

On Respect for the Aged Day, organizations and companies will have special events to help the elderly living in their community or individuals with volunteer; taking part in activities to help those in their communities.

Autumn Equinox

秋分の日 / Shubun no Hi

22 Sep

Vernal Equinox Day is a public holiday that takes place on the Northward equinox in Japan, usually held on either March 20th or 21st.

The date of the holiday is not officially declared until February of the previous year, due to the need for recent astronomical measurements

Culture Day

文化の日 / Bunka no Hi

3 Nov

Culture Day (Bunka-no-hi) is held on November 3rd and intended to promote culture, art and academic endeavours.

This day typically contains the holding of art exhibitions, parades and award ceremonies for distinguished artists and scholars.

Related: Culture Day Parade in Hikone

Labor Thanksgiving Day

勤労感謝の日 / Kinrō Kansha no Hi

23 Nov

Japan's Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated on November 23rd. Intended to celebrate labour, production and give thanks to one another.

Events are held throughout Japan, such as the Nagano city's Labor Festival where they promote being environmentally conscious, peace and human rights.

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Join the discussion

Geraldine Buergel 5 months ago
That's a great overview! I have often been wondering about the meanings of all these holidays.
Sherilyn Siy 8 months ago
Kim B 8 months ago
Super helpful for planning purposes!
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