Spring Equinox in Japan

In Japan, the Spring Equinox is a special day of the year. Also known as the Vernal Equinox, this is the time of the year when the sun is directly above the equator, making the day and night equal in length.

This occurs around the 20th or 21st of March in the Northern Hemisphere, and in Japan, it’s a time of the year when people pay homage to their ancestors and spend time with their families.

It’s also a time for agriculturists and farmers to pray for a good crop as they begin their spring planting. This is a holiday that has been observed religiously for thousands of years and will probably be observed for thousands more.

The History of the Spring Equinox in Japan

Although the Spring Equinox has been associated with Shintoism in Japan, which would date it to about the 8th century, the fact of the matter is that the celebration of the Vernal Equinox probably goes back many thousands of years before Shintoism. People have been celebrating the Spring Equinox all over the world for thousands of years to celebrate the end of winter and to pray for good crops.

In 1948 in Japan, this day officially became a public holiday. Before it was formalized, it was observed as Shunki kōreisai, an event that was observed under Shintoism. It was changed from a religious to a secular holiday to separate religion and state functions as required under the Constitution of Japan.

The Shinto Directive was introduced by the Allies to abolish governmental sponsorship, control, and perpetuation of State Shinto. It’s for this reason why Spring Equinox celebrations in Japan veered from religious events to more secular events. However, that didn’t remove the inherent spiritual aspect that can be found in this holiday.

Some Interesting Facts About Japan

Japan is an interesting country, so we wanted to take a few moments to talk more about it. Instead of giving a long history lesson on this country, we decided the best way to honor it was to give some easy-to-digest facts about it below. Let’s take a quick look at them before returning to our discussion of the Spring Equinox.

  • The oldest operating business in the world is in Japan. It’s called Kongo Gumi and was established in 578.
  • The average life expectancy in Japan is 84.
  • Nearly half of the zippers in the world are made in Japan.

Observing the Spring Equinox in Japan

This holiday is part of a 7-day festival period known as Haru no Higan. This is a time for people to visit with their families, clean the graves of their ancestors, and pay homage to them.

It’s also customary to leave offerings of fresh flowers or food for the dead. People can spread the word about this day using the hashtag #SpringEquinox on social media.

Where is it celebrated?
Japan (National holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
March 20 Wednesday
Next year (2025)
March 20 Thursday
Last year (2023)
March 21 Tuesday