#1 Easy Guide To Japanese Calendar For Beginners

Japanese Calendar

Are you planning to visit or move to Japan long-term? Or, are you already in Japan? Either way, your first time in Japan might be a bit challenging, especially since the culture and lifestyle are very different from other countries. An example of one main difference is the Japanese calendar.

That’s exactly why we’ve decided to write this blog post! If you’re having trouble with Japanese times or dates, don’t let it ruin your trip to Japan. Instead, keep reading so that you can learn Japanese and fully understand the Japanese calendar system. Don’t worry. It’s not as confusing as you might think!

Japanese Calendar Which Calendar Does Japan Use

Which Calendar Does Japan Use?

Japan officially adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1873. However, the traditional calendar is still in use all over modern-day Japan.

You are most likely to encounter the traditional calendar on official documents, paperwork, and printed calendars. That’s why the Japanese calendar consists of official and unofficial systems!

The Traditional Japanese Calendar

The traditional Japanese calendar has a numbering system called 年号システム (nengō system). This system basically works by naming particular eras after the reigning emperor. After the Meiji period ended in 1912, each reign started to be designated as one era.

Japanese Calendar Japanese Birth Date

Don’t Forget To Learn Your Japanese Birth Date

Knowing your birth date in Japanese will be a huge help to you when you visit the country since all governmental paperwork is drawn up according to traditional Japanese dates.

Japanese Calendar Eto Calendar Zodiac Animals

The Eto Calendar Based On Zodiac Animals

The eto calendar, which is based on Chinese zodiac animals, follows a 12-year cycle. The system originally came from China and has since spread to other countries, including Japan.

However, in Japan, the order is rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar.

What Makes The Japanese Calendar Unique?

The Japanese calendar doesn’t only show the days of the month based on the Gregorian calendar (新暦 – shinreki), but includes traditional Japanese month names (さつき – satsuki) and days of fortune (六夜 – rokuyo).

Also, each month in the traditional Japanese calendar starts later than that of the Gregorian calendar. So, the first month actually starts in February for us.

Here are the names and meanings of all the traditional months in Japanese:

  • 睦月 (Mutsuki) – Month when family members gather for the New Year
  • 如月 (Kisaragi) – Month of covering up against the cold
  • 弥生 (Yayoi) – Month of plant growth
  • 卯月 (Uzuki) – Month when the deutzia flowers bloom
  • 皐月 (Satsuki) – Month for planting rice
  • 水無月 (Minazuki) – Month of flood
  • 文月 (Fumizuki) – Month when rice mature
  • 葉月 (Hazuki) – Month when the leaves fall
  • 長月 (Nagatsuki) – Month when the nights get longer
  • 神無月 (Kannazuki) – Month of gods
  • 下月 (Shimotsuki) – Month of frost
  • 師走 (Shiwasu) – Month of preparations for the New Year

What Is Rokuyo (六夜)?

Rokuyo means days of fortune and is basically a set of six days that will determine whether a day is lucky or unlucky. Many people use this information to sync their clocks with the Japanese time when they arrange weddings and funerals.

  • 千翔 (Senshō) – Day with a promising morning but a less promising afternoon
  • 友引 (Tomobiki) – Favorable day for happy events but unfavorable for blue occasions like funerals
  • 先負 (Senpu) – Day with a promising afternoon that will bring positive outcomes
  • 仏滅 (Butsumetsu) – Day considered unfortunate but appropriate for funerals and Buddhist ceremonies
  • 泰安 (Taian) – Day considered lucky, specifically for weddings
  • 赤口 (Shakkō) – Day considered unlucky for celebrations like weddings

What Year Is 2024 In The Japanese Calendar?

Since Emperor Naruhito ascended to the throne in 2019, the current era name is known as Reiwa (令和). Since Japanese years are calculated based on the number of years the emperor has reigned, the year 2024 in the Gregorian calendar is Reiwa 6 in the Japanese calendar. It is also the year of the dragon.

Japanese Calendar Seasonal Festivals

Seasonal Festivals In Japan: The 5 Sekku

The Japanese calendar includes 5 seasonal festivals, which are known as the 5 sekku, held on the lucky days, according to Rokuyo.

  • Jinjitsu no sekku (January 7th) – Prayers for a good harvest and the eating of nanakusa-gayu (rice porridge seasoned with herbs)
  • Momo no sekku (March 3rd) – Hinamatsuri, a festival celebrating daughters
  • Tango no sekku (May 5th) – Children’s Day
  • Tanabata (July 7th) – Star Festival, which is celebrated with the tradition of writing hopes and wishes on strips of colored paper and displaying them in public places
  • Chōyō no sekku (September 9th) – Temples are decorated with colorful chrysanthemums (a flower traditionally associated with imperial Japan)

Japanese Calendar Vocabulary For Practice

Want to improve your Japanese? Here are some words and phrases we picked for you. It’s important to plan your reservations ahead if you want to schedule your time to visit Japan for its national holidays and significant events.

Calendar (Japanese Era)和暦Wareki
Calendar (Object)カレンダーKarendā
Accommodation/Hotel宿泊施設Shukuhaku shisetsu
I would like to make a reservation予約お願いしますYoyaku onegai-shimasu
When is the next festival?次のお祭りはいつですか?Tsugi no omatsuri wa itsudesu ka?

If it seems overwhelming to absorb all of this information in one go, it’s best that you take 15 minutes to memorize the words. Even better, you can try the Ling app today by downloading it from the App Store or Play Store. You’ll find a study habit that will suit you the most.

Japanese National Holidays In 2024

Now that we learned some Japanese vocabulary for the Japanese calendar, let’s take a look at some events. Here are the other important days and national holidays in the Japanese calendar in 2024.

New Year’s Day – January 1

Japanese people don’t really celebrate the Lunar New Year, but they do celebrate the Japanese New Year on January 1. A lot of businesses and shops are closed from January 1 to 3.

Don’t be surprised if you see long queues at the entrance of temples and shrines because they want their first visit of the year to be in a temple, and this is actually a tradition called hastsumode.

Coming of Age Day – January 8

It is a day to congratulate young people who have come of age that year. It is always celebrated on the second Monday of January. The coming-of-age ceremony is unexceptionally held in every municipality in Japan on the same day.

National Foundation Day – February 11

It is an annual celebration dedicated to the founding of Japan on February 11. Meiji Shrine holds a parade each year to celebrate this important day.

Emperor’s Birthday – February 23

On February 23, many Japanese people gather at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to celebrate the current Reiwa Emperor’s birthday and offer their best wishes.

Vernal Equinox Day – March 20

Vernal Equinox Day marks the change between seasons when there are around equal lengths of sunlight and darkness.

Japanese people have a tradition of visiting the graves of their passed-away family members on this day. They also eat a kind of wagashi named botamochi on this holiday.

Shōwa Day – April 29

Showa is actually the name of a previous era in Japan, so this day was actually created to recall those times. You can enter Showa Kinen Park in Tokyo for free on this day.

Constitution Memorial Day – May 3

Various events are held all over Japan on this day. All of the sightseeing places and public transportation systems can be quite crowded.

Greenery Day – May 4

This holiday was created to develop mindfulness about the blessings of nature. You can visit many zoos and gardens for free on this day.

Japanese Calendar Childrens Day

Children’s Day – May 5

Children’s Day is an important day that honors the individuality and existence of children, and people wish for children’s happiness and well-being. They also express gratitude towards mothers on this day. Many facilities for children are free or discounted for this day.

Marine Day – July 15

This holiday takes place every third Monday of July and people show gratitude for the blessings of the ocean as they live in an island country. Some of the Maritime Self-Defense Force bases in Japan are open to the public to celebrate this day.

Mountain Day – August 11

This is actually a new holiday that was first celebrated in 2016. The purpose of this holiday is to make people familiarized with the mountains and appreciate their important role in Japan.

Respect for the Aged Day – September 16

The third Monday of every September is celebrated as the Respect for the Aged Day in Japan. You are expected to show respect for the elderly on this day and to serve the purpose of this day. Many facilities and national parks are free for 50+ people.

Autumnal Equinox Day – September 22

Autumn Equinox Day is the opposite of Vernal Equinox Day, and people do the same thing: they visit their family graves on this day.

Japanese Calendar Health And Sports Day

Health And Sports Day – October 14

The purpose of this holiday is to foster the healthy mind and body motto by encouraging locals to try some sports activities. Sports-related events are held across the country at gymnasiums and sports centers on this day.

Culture Day – November 3

Culture Day is celebrated annually on November 3 to protect the Japanese culture while respecting freedom and peace in the country. Various art events sponsored by the Agency for Cultural Affairs are arranged on this day. You can enter many museums and galleries for free on Culture Day.

Labor Thanksgiving Day – November 23

This is a holiday that values labor and production. Around this day, the famous autumn leaves areas can be very crowded.

If you want to learn more about the Japanese language, but you have absolutely no idea where to start, be sure to try out the Ling app!

Learn The Japanese Language With Ling!

If you are interested in learning Japanese or any of the other 60+ foreign languages offered in the app, then you will absolutely love the Ling app!

Ling is a language learning app designed to help you learn a new language effectively at your own pace.

With so many engaging activities to choose from, such as writing and listening exercises, mini-games, quick quizzes, and an AI chatbot, the Ling app is an all-in-one language learning resource. You can find everything you need in this app to master the 4 language skills.

Start learning Japanese now by downloading the Ling app today!

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