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Updated: December 2, 2019

Japan currently has 16 public holidays each year.
As you plan your travel itinerary, it is useful to know when these days fall and what exactly they celebrate.

Tips

  • Companies generally give their employees days off during public holidays, so popular landmarks, attractions, and sightseeing spots will be crowded
  • Roads and public transport will be congested
  • Train and bus routes may change
  • If you dislike crowds, it might be best to schedule your sightseeing plans on different days

There are some changes to the public holiday schedule in 2020, due to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Now for the fun stuff. What are these holidays, and what do they celebrate?

Overviews

Day Name
January 1 New Year’s Day
Second Monday of January Coming of Age Day
February 11 National Foundation Day
Beginning in 2020, February 23 The Emperor’s Birthday
Around March 20-21 Vernal Equinox
April 29 Showa Day
May 3 Constitution Memorial Day
May 4 Greenery Day
May 5 Children’s Day
July 23 (only in 2020) Sea Day
July 24 (only in 2020) Sports Day
August 10 (only in 2020) Mountain Day
Third Monday of September Respect for the Aged Day
Around September 22-23 Autumnal Equinox
November 3 Culture Day
November 23 Labor Thanksgiving Day

New Year’s Day (January 1)

On the evening of December 31 or morning of January 1, visit a temple and shrine and get the new year off to a fresh start.

Coming of Age Day (second Monday of January)

Everyone who turns 20 during this calendar year officially “comes of age.” (In Japan, you can smoke and drink at 20.)

National Foundation Day: (February 11)

Commemorates the founding of Japan.

The Emperor’s Birthday: (beginning in 2020, February 23)

Celebrates the Emperor's birthday.

Vernal Equinox (Around March 20-21)

In Japan, both equinoxes are public holidays. This is the spring one.

Golden Week

A collection of holidays that give people roughly a week off each year. Tokyo will be buzzing will all sorts of events: music, art, food, festivals. The individual holidays are as follows:

Showa Day (April 29)

Commemorates the reign of Emperor Hirohito, also known as the Showa Emperor.

Constitution Memorial Day (May 3)

Commemorates the day Japan’s current constitution came into effect.

Greenery Day (May 4)

A day to give thanks to nature.

Children’s Day (May 5)

A day to pray for the happy, healthy growth of our children.

Sea Day (July 23(only in 2020))

Celebrates the bounty of Japan’s oceans.

Sports Day(July 24(only in 2020))

A day to enjoy physical activity and focus on health both physical and mental.

Mountain Day (August 10(only in 2020))

Celebrates the bounty of Japan’s mountains. Falls near the beginning of Bon, a special period of the year when people take time off to return to their family hometowns and commune with their ancestors.

Respect for the Aged Day (third Monday of September)

A day to respect the elderly and celebrate long life.

Autumnal Equinox (Around September 22-23)

In Japan, both equinoxes are public holidays. This is the autumn one.

Culture Day (November 3)

A day to embrace peace and freedom and celebrate culture. Tokyo will be full of cultural events, and admission to some of Japan’s premier museums will be free!

Labor Thanksgiving Day (November 23)

A day to give thanks to each other for our hard work.

Other holidays and events

October 1 is a special Tokyo holiday called Citizens Day, where many facilities run by the Tokyo government offer free admission.