Culture

Japan National Holidays

Japan National Holidays
Vernal Equinox Day
March 16, 2021

Vernal Equinox Day春分の日・しゅんぶんのひ  is normally held on March 20 or March 21 each year. This day marks the start of spring and the end of winter.

Before World War II it was called Shunki Koreisai春季皇霊祭・しゅんきこうれいさい, a Shinto holiday observed to honor past emperors of Japan. In 1948, Shunki Koreisai was repackaged as Shubun no Hi, a day to pray for a bountiful 収穫しゅうかく・harvest.

This holiday coincides with many end-of-year academic events in Japan. 学校がっこう・Schools hold 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. Traditionally, Japanese families tend to visit their family’s grave site offering bota mochi a sweet rice ball just like its autumnal counterpart, ohagi.

What follows after Shubun no Hi is the annual spring holiday season, which is an approximately a 16-day period until April 5 (the start of Japan’s fiscal year). It’s also the time when Japan’s さくら・cherry blossoms start blooming in many parts of the country. During this time, people travel all around the country to view the cherry blossoms 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 five days of unlimited rail travel on any local or rapid service train anywhere in the country) become valid on this day and is a nice, inexpensive way to see the country.

EnglishJapaneseRomaji
Vernal Equinox Day春分の日shubun no hi
A day to pay respects to previous members of the Imperial family and past emperors春季皇霊祭shuki koresai
Harvest収穫shuukaku
School学校gakkou
Graduation卒業sotsugyou
Closing ceremony終業式shuugyou shiki
Cherry blossomssakura
JR Seasonal Spring ticket青春18きっぷseishun juhachi kippu
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