Japan's Unique Culture and Heritage
Japan has many traditions, practices, and holidays that reflect the culture of Japan. Like most countries, religious beliefs and traditions are reflected in Japan's buildings and celebrations. Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples dot the landscape and reflect the two major religions of Japan. Most people in Japan, to some degree, can be considered followers of the Shinto faith. A slightly smaller number can be considered Buddhists. Unlike many other countries though, Japanese beliefs allow people to practice both Shinto and Buddhism at the same time; one faith does not prevent them from worshiping the other. At different times in their lives they may practice the ceremonies of one or the other. A person might have a Shinto ceremony at birth. Japanese children may participate in the Shinto seven-five-three ceremony as they grow older in hopes of a healthy life and to mark various stages of life. Japanese couples may have a traditional Shinto wedding ceremony with the bride wearing a white scarf and white kimono (pictured to the right). At the end their lives, many Japanese might have Buddhist funerals.
Christianity is practiced by approximately two percent of the population of Japan. The Portuguese brought Catholicism to Japan when they arrived on Japan's Tanegashima Island in 1543. Within a few years other Portuguese arrived in Kyushu where they began to evangelize and win converts to their faith. As their presence and influence increased, so too did their threat to the power of the local daimyo and leaders in Japan. Christians subsequently were banned from practicing their faith by new laws and edicts. Although several shoguns tried to eradicate Christians and their beliefs, they were never completely successful and Christianity has maintained a small presence in Japan.
2020 Holidays and Celebrations in Japan
January 1 - New Year's Day
January 2 and 3 - Bank Holidays
January 13 - Coming of Age Day
February - Setsubun (Traditional Beginning of Spring)
February 11 - National Foundation Day
February 23 - Emperor’s Birthday
February 24 - Emperor’s Birthday Observed
March 3 - Girl's Day Festival (Not an Official Holiday)
March 20 - Vernal Equinox
April 29 - Showa Day (Emperor Hirohito's Birthday)
May 3 - Japan Constitution Day
May 4 - Greenery Day
May 5 - Children's Day
May 6 - Japan Constitution Day Observed
July - Tanabata Festival
July 23 - Marine Day
July 24 - Health and Sports Day
Wugust (2nd week of August) - Obon Festival
August 10 - Mountain Day
September 21 (3rd Monday in September) - Respect For the Aged Day
September 22 - Autumnal Equinox
November 3 - Culture Day
November 15 - 7-5-3 Shichi-Go-San Festival
November 23 - Labor Thanksgiving Day
December 31 - New Year's Eve
Japanese Culture and Traditions
Shoes at the Entrance to an Elementary School in Yokohama, Japan - People who enter Japanese schools take their shoes off at the entrance and then wear special indoor shoes called uwabaki.
Ninomiya Kinjiro Statue At a School on Ikei Island, Okinawa (Japan) - Kinjiro learned at an early age to work hard and not to waste time. In fact, statues usually show him hauling wood while reading. Kinjiro's desire to learn and diligence allowed him to become very successful. The statues remind Japanese children of his story and to work hard in school.