Okinawa Island Guide

Everything on Okinawa Island from A to Z

Okinawa Island Guide

Japanese national holidays 2017

Jan. 1
New Year’s Day

Families prepare New Year’s dishes and rice cakes to celebrate the coming of the new year. Many people visit temples and shrines to pray for health and well-being. Most companies are closed through the third and resume business on the fourth.


Jan. 9
Coming of Age Day

The Japanese officially become adults at 20 years of age, when they earn the right to vote and can also drink and smoke legally. Ceremonies are held all over the country, with young adults dressed up in kimono and hakama to celebrate to their new status.
*Celebration ceremony – The rowdy behavior of some inebriated new adults casts a shadow over festivities every year, causing controversy and receiving extensive coverage in the media.


Feb. 11
National Foundation Day

The founding of Japan by the Emperor Jimmu in 660 B.C. is celebrated on this day.


March 20
Vernal Equinox

The vernal equinox is one of 24 solar terms in East Asia. The sun rises due east and sets due west, and day and night are divided into approximately the same number of hours.


May 3
Constitution Day

The Japanese Constitution went into effect on this day in 1947, after the end of World War II. Popular sovereignty, the rights and duties of the people and the renunciation of war are the three main articles of the Constitution.


May 4
Greenery Day

Established as a new national holiday in 2007, this is a day to appreciate nature.


May 5
Children’s Day

On this day in the past people used irises to protect themselves from the evil eye, but nowadays they hang carp streamers outside their houses to celebrate their children growing up. Large strings of carp streamers are hung in some areas such as at the mouth of the Hija River in Kadena Town. This is also the last day of Golden Week.
*Golden Week – This is a long holiday that starts on April 29 with Day of Showa and runs until Children’s Day on May 5.


June 23
Memorial Day

The Battle of Okinawa ended on this day in 1945. A memorial service is held every year at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman City and in other areas of Okinawa. Family members of the victims attend the ceremonies where they observe a moment of a silence at noon and contemplate the importance of world peace. This is a national holiday only in Okinawa.


July 17
Marine Day

People show appreciation for the ocean and pray for the prosperity of Japan, a seafaring nation.


Sept. 18
Respect for the Aged Day

Respect for the elderly and a celebration of their longevity mark this day, when elders pass on their wisdom to the younger generation.

Sept. 3-5
Lunar Obon

One late summer event to be aware of is Obon, an ancient Buddhist tradition of honoring ancestral spirits. Obon season is characterized by festivals, music and dance; however, many businesses across Okinawa are closed for three or four days – so it is best to be prepared.


Sept. 23
Autumnal Equinox

The autumnal equinox is one of 24 solar terms in East Asia. The sun rises due east and sets due west, and day and night are divided into approximately the same number of hours. This day plus the three days before and after make up higan (autumnal equinoctial week).


Oct. 9
Health Sports Day

This is the day to play sports or exercise and become healthy, both physically and mentally. Many sports events are held on this day.


Nov. 3
Culture Day

This is a day to celebrate culture and show respect toward freedom and peace.


Nov. 23
Labor Thanksgiving Day

On this day labor and production are shown appreciation.


Dec. 23
The Emperor’s Birthday

Today marks the birthday of the current emperor, the Heisei Emperor. This holiday was established in 1989.