Watch out for these dates at you plan your travels, because they are official holidays in Japan and you’ll be traveling with the throng.
January 1 – New Year’s Day
Second Monday of January – Coming of Age Day
Feb 11 – National Founding Day
March 20 (or 21) – Vernal Equinox
April 29 – Showa Day
May 3 – Constitution Memorial Day
May 4 – Greenery Day
May 5 – Children’s Day
Third Monday of July – Marine Day
August 11 – Mountain Day
Third Monday of September – Respect for the Aged Day
September 22 (or 23) – Autumnal Equinox
October 10 – Health and Sports Day
November 3 – Culture Day
November 23 – Labor Thanksgiving Day
December 23 – The Emperor’s Birthday
Japan has several seasonal vacations when children are out of school and companies close down. These are periods of heavy travel. Prices increase and hotel rooms are in short supply. On the other hand, these are great times for sightseeing around Tokyo since everyone else is out of town!
New Year’s break: Many merchants and companies close around December 28 and reopen about January 5. Governments and banks take a shorter vacation, from about the 3lst to the 3rd.
Summer vacation: School summer vacation runs from about July 19 to around September 1. Watch out for O Bon, usually the week of August 15 but held in some places in mid-July, when Japanese often travel to their hometowns to be with family and friends.
April and “Golden Week”: Japanese schools break for two to three weeks in April, when their academic year ends. This often coincides with the American spring break. Then, from the end of April to the beginning of May, there is a period known as “Golden Week.” It incorporates three national holidays: April 29 (Green Day), May 3 (Constitution Memorial Day), and May 5 (Children’s Day). Companies often give employees the days between the holidays off. Since the weather tends to be good, many Japanese visit resorts, or travel abroad.
During the summer and winter holidays, especially at the beginning and end of the mass exoduses to the beach or ski resorts, stay home! Listen to the news to find out when the outgoing and return traffic rushes are expected and avoid travel during those times. Teresa K. Negley 2010