Japan typically observes 16 national holidays a year. However, because of the Tokyo Olympics, the bank and public holiday schedule will look a bit different in 2020.
If you are planning to visit Japan in 2020 and do not want to deal with crowded theme parks, museums, castles, shrines, temples, and other tourist sites and attractions, you might want to avoid going to these places on bank and public holidays. Below are dates that you should mark on your calendars:
January 1 (Wednesday) – New Year’s Day
Many Japanese people start their new year by visiting shrines and temples on New Year’s Day, a practice known as “hatsumode. “ On this day, many restaurants, malls, stores, and other business establishments are closed, and do not open until January 4.
January 13 (Monday) – Coming of Age Day
This is event is observed on the second Monday of January. It involves a coming of age ceremony that is hosted by local and prefectural offices, where young Japanese men and women who have reached or will reach the age of majority (20 years old) between April 2 of the previous year and April 1 of the current year are welcomed into adulthood.
February 11 (Tuesday) – National Foundation Day
This holiday commemorates the founding of Japan. Every year, a big parade is held at Meiji Shrine, one of Japan’s most important shrines, located a short walk from Harajuku Station in Tokyo, and lots of local and foreign spectators flock there to witness it.
February 23 (Sunday) – Emperor’s Birthday
The current Emperor of Japan is Emperor Naruhito, who ascended to throne on May 1, 2019, celebrates his birthday on February 23. He succeeds his father, Akihito, who abdicated his position due to old age (he’s 85 years old) and declining health. On this day, lots of people go to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to offer their birthday wishes to the Emperor.
February 24 (Monday) – Emperor’s Birthday (observed)
Because the actual day of the Emperor’s birthday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday automatically becomes a public holiday.
March 20 (Friday) – Vernal Equinox Day
This day marks the end of the winter and the start of the spring, that time of the year when daytime and nighttime become pretty much equal in length. Traditionally, the Japanese celebrate this day by paying their ancestral graves a visit and feast on some rice cake covered with red bean paste (called botamochi).
April 29 (Wednesday) – Showa Day
This holiday is a part of Golden Week, and it celebrates the birthday of Emperor Showa (or Hirohito), who served as Emperor of Japan from 1926 to 1989. On this day every year, the Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa, which is a city in the western side of the Tokyo metropolis, is opened to everyone, free of charge.
May 3 (Sunday) – Constitution Memorial Day
This national holiday observes the promulgation of the 1947 Constitution of Japan, and it is also one of the many holidays included in Golden Week. On this day, the National Diet, which is the bicameral legislature office of Japan, situated in Chiyoda, Tokyo, is opened to the public for tours.
May 4 (Monday) – Greenery Day
This holiday is also a part of Golden Week, and it honors the environment and nature. On this day, some gardens and zoos across Japan offer free entry.
May 5 (Tuesday) – Children’s Day
On this day, families celebrate their children, and wish for blessings, happiness, and successes on their future endeavors by hanging up colorful streamers shaped like carps and displaying samurai dolls. Some zoos and other facilities offer discounted or free entry to children. This holiday is also one of the Golden Week holidays.
May 6 (Wednesday) – Constitution Memorial Day (observed)
Because the actual day of the Constitution Memorial Day falls on May 3, which is a Sunday, and the following Monday and Tuesday are also public holidays (Greenery Day and Children’s Day), the following Wednesday is designated a public holiday.
July 23 (Thursday) – Marine Day
This national holiday is typically held every third Monday of July, and it is observed to show gratitude and appreciation for the ocean. However, because of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and the Paralympic Games, it will be moved to July 23 (only for 2020).
July 24 (Friday) – Sports Day
Normally, Sports Day is observed on the second Monday of October. However, because of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the Paralympic Games, it will be held on July 24 (for 2020 only). On this day, various sports events are organized at different gymnasiums and sports facilities across the country.
August 10 (Monday) – Mountain Day
A fairly new Japanese public holiday, Mountain day was first celebrated in the country in 2016 to give people the opportunity to get to know the mountains of Japan and their role in the environment and ecosystem. It usually takes place on August 11, but due to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the Paralympic Games, it will be held on August 11 (only for 2020).
September 21 (Monday) – Respect for the Aged Day
This is an annual public holiday that honors the elderly. On this day, the senior citizens of Japan can enter national parks, city zoos, and other facilities for free.
September 22 (Tuesday) – Autumnal Equinox Day
On this day, the sun crosses over the earth’s equator from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere. To observe it, the Japanese people usually visit the graves of their deceased family members.
November 3 (Tuesday) – Culture Day
Every year on this day, various cultural events are organized throughout Japan to promote culture via art festivals, free admission to some art galleries and museums, and various other special events and activities.
November 23 (Monday) – Labor Thanksgiving Day
This holiday takes place on November 23 every year to honor the labor and production sectors, and promote human rights, peace, and environmental awareness. On this day, students prepare presents or cards to be given to policemen, firefighters, hospital workers, and other people in the labor force to express their gratitude for their service to the country.