Just as other people from different countries around the world celebrate many different holidays, Japan also celebrates several holidays throughout the year. Given that the Japanese are known to be hard workers, they only have 15 days of holiday in a year approved by the government. Unfortunately, since many of their holidays are not fixed on the same day of the week, some years have holidays falling in the middle of the week. To make the best use of those 15 days, another holiday is inserted between two official holidays.
There is a Public Holiday Law in Japan amended in the year 1948 which states that when a national holiday falls on a Sunday, the next working day shall become a public holiday, also known as furikae kyujitsu which means “transfer holiday”. An ordinary day between two holidays is also considered a free day and is called a Bridge Public Holiday.
This year’s Japanese bridge holiday happens between the celebration of the “Respect for the Aged Day” and the “Autumnal Equinox Day”. During the “Respect for the Aged Day” which will happen on the 21st day of September this year, families celebrate and honor elderly citizens by visiting them or by giving gifts; while the “Autumnal Equinox Day” is the day the sun crosses over the equator from the Northern to Southern Hemisphere. The day for the celebration will be determined on the February of the previous year; this is due to the necessity of recent astronomical measurements. But for this year, it will be celebrated on September 23 and the people of Japan will be remembering the separation of religion and state in Japan’s post war constitution. This is the time of the year were families visit the graves of their departed family members, hold family reunions and go out of town to pay tribute to those who have passed away.
Since September 21 and September 23 are two holidays which are declared just a day apart, September 22 is therefore a Bridge Public Holiday and is usually a non-working day for most Japanese. Japan with its 15 days of holiday is considered as a lucky place compared to Wales and England which only have 9 holidays. The people of Japan consider these 15 days of holiday to be their most precious time, using them to stay at home and relax, or spend time bonding with their families.
Remember, the average Japanese worker only has an average 18 paid vacation days per year. Furthermore, almost none take their full vacation allotment. Many Japanese take pride in taking no vacation during the year, preferring to work every day. For these over dedicated types, the Public Holidays becomes their only break from work.
So having said this about Bridge Public Holidays, who wouldn’t want to always have more Bridge Holidays? Other countries, not as industrious as the Japanese, also have ‘bridge’ holidays. In Italy, for example, almost everyone bridges their time between Christmas and St. Epiphany (6 January); they even use the same term for this practice. That much time off would be shocking for a Japanese worker.
As Japan is one of the safest and cleanest place around the world, why don’t we just enjoy this long holiday by touring Japan. Now that the brutal summer temperatures have abated, this is a great time to travel in Japan.
If you decide to take a trip during this time, make sure to plan well as you can expect busy traffic and thicker crowds in the streets. Nonetheless, this is still a string of holidays worth waiting for.