Japan National HolidaysImage by Emma Wilson
Vernal Equinox Day
Vernal Equinox Day is a Shintoist holiday observed to honor past Emperors of Japan.
Vernal Equinox Day春分の日・しゅんぶんのひ is held on the 20th or 21st of March, depending upon which day the equinox falls. Before World War II, Vernal Equinox Day was known as Shunki Koreisai春季皇霊祭・しゅんきこうれいさい, a Shintoist holiday observed to honor past Emperors of Japan. A second Koreisai, the Shuki Koreisai（Shuki Koreisai春季皇霊祭・しゅきこうれいさい, occurred on the autumnal equinox.
In 1948, the Shunki Koreisai (and the Shuki Koreisai) was, in accordance with Japan’s post-war 憲法けんぽう・constitution mandating the separation of church and state, repackaged as Shubun no Hi, a day to pray for a bountiful 収穫しゅうかく・harvest.
Shubun no Hi often coincides with the end of the 学校がっこう・school year in Japan. Many schools have 卒業そつぎょう・graduation and 終業式しゅうぎょうしき・closing ceremonies on this day. The approximately 16-day period between this day and April 5th (the start of Japan’s fiscal year) is the 祝日しゅくじつ・spring holiday. It’s also the time when Japan’s 桜さくら・cherry blossoms start blooming in many parts of the country.
As such, Shunbun no Hi marks the beginning of the spring 旅行シーズンりょこうしーずん・travel season as many people go out to view the sakura, or to see friends and loved ones. JR’s spring season 青春１８きっぷせいしゅん１８きっぷ・Seishun Juhachi Kippu rail passes (good for 5 days of unlimited rail travel on any local or rapid service local train anywhere in the country) become valid on this day and is a nice 安いやすい・inexpensive way to see the country.