Winter Holidays in Japan: Christmas and New Year Season

Japanese Winter Holiday: Christmas and New Year Holiday Season in Japan

If you are travelling to Japan during a Christmas and New Year season, you may wonder what the winter holidays are like in Japan.

Every workplace and store has different holiday schedule during the season, though the most common winter holiday period in Japan is from 29th December to 3rd January. During this period, you may experience the closure of many facilities including shops, restaurants, banks, post offices, clinics, entertainment facilities and institutions’ closures so If you are planning to visit touristic sites such as historical sites, museums and amusement parks, it’s advised to check their opening schedule in advance.

Unlike Western countries, Christmas Day (25th December) is not an official holiday in Japan so most of shops, offices and transportation service operate as a regular day. Yet, Japanese people still celebrate this special day commonly with Christmas decorations, meals, cakes and events. While Christmas Day is considered to be the day to spend with families in many countries, for Japanese people, 24th and 25th December are kind of days for lovers rather than families. Many restaurants prepare special Christmas meals for these period and tend to be occupied by couples.

More info ▶ Christmas in Japan

So if Christmas Day is not the most celebrated day of the year, what is the most important day among Japanese people? The answer is New Year. Japanese New Year (from 1st to 3rd January) is very special and traditional, and the whole country turns into a festive atmosphere involving a lot of traditional decorations, ceremonies and customs.

The celebrations for New Year usually starts from 31st December (called Omisoka in Japanese) or days earlier, and many people start visiting their families once they finish their last work shift of the year, which may result causing heavy traffics in many parts of the countries. Numbers of countdown events are also held on New Year’s Eve including theme parks, countdown cruise and parties at hotel lounges.

New Year’s Day, called Gantan in Japanese, is the day people commonly spend time with their families and eat traditional New Year’s meals such as Osechi and Ozoni. In the first 3 days of the new year, many people go out for Hatsumode, the first shrine/temple visit of the year to make a wish for a new year. Most of public services are closed on these days and the public train service works with a special schedule (less frequently service than regular days).

From 2nd to 4th January, the people who spend their New Year holidays back home in countrysides tend to return home in cities, so there are usually heavy traffic congestion on the roads, trains and airports.

More info ▶ New Year’s Holiday in Japan 

If you are curious about how to properly spend winter holidays in Japan, you may wanna check out these stories!

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