Japanese holidays – Do You Know
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Japanese holidays

Japanese holidays

The Japanese have a reputation for being hard-working people, but what about a vacation in Japan?

Have you ever wondered about school holidays in Japan, public holidays and vacation?


As in most parts of the world, most public holidays come from religious holidays and contrary to what one might think, Japan is one of the countries with the most public holidays.

In the year, Japan counts 15 public holidays, if a public holiday happens to be a Sunday, it is the following Monday which becomes public holiday, moreover if a working day is between two public holidays, it becomes holiday in turn.

The two largest vacation periods in Japan are Golden Week (ゴ ー ル デ ン ウ ィ ー ク) and Obon (お 盆), both of which are “created” on holidays in May and August. According to the companies and the regions, the Japanese can take advantage of these public holidays to accumulate, weekends included, up to 10 ten days of vacation!

School holidays

In Japan, school is organized differently: back to school is in April and the school year is divided into three trimesters: April to July, September to December and January to March.

The “big” holidays in Japan are therefore during the school year, during the second trimester, during the month of August.

The other two holiday periods are for Christmas, 15 days and for the end of the year, 3 weeks in March.

This seems little compared to holidays in France for example, but be aware that there are many public holidays (as seen above) and especially many school days dedicated to activities (often sports), open days, visits and even trips.

With the difference that with the social pressure of Japan and success at all costs for a student, it should be known that the holidays (like the afternoons and evenings of school days) are very often dedicated to studies: summer classes in schools, evening classes, and private schools. The solutions are multiple and finally most of the holidays are used to study.

Days off

There, we enter a complicated world, that of work days off … Japanese law “offers” 20 days of vacation per year. The Japanese government has launched several campaigns to “promote” leave, but nothing helps, it is very rare to take all your days off in Japan…

Several reasons for this, already the seniority system, hierarchized at all levels in Japan (and not only for work) which means that a young employee will have less vacation than an old one: indeed, the first year, a young employees will have 10 days of leave, then reach their 20 days of leave after more than six years of seniority.

However, even these 10 days of leave are not easy to obtain, because still many companies, especially in the private sector, grant less. Thus, it is common to start working in Japan with only 7 days off a year, or even less.

Again, as it is frowned upon to take holidays in Japan, it is not uncommon to see Japanese people coming to work during their days off!

In conclusion

As you can see, whether in school or in professional life, holidays are not easy in Japan.

In addition, it is not necessarily the Japanese who is so hardworking, but more the social pressure and this society based on the “group”, which pushes people to take very little vacation, except on public holidays, which are respected in Japan.

So, to all those who wish to study and especially work in Japan, are you sure you want to separate yourself from this part of your culture, namely the holidays?

Managing Editor
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