July and August Holidays in Japan

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Our #GanbaruIntern is modeling a yukata found at Hosekibako, our Japanese Resale Shop.

Japanese culture has many wonderful attributes that make the country as wonderful as it is. It’s celebration of nature, hard work,

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A variety of slippers for men and women to be worn with yukata.

and cultural preservation is reflected in the upcoming Japanese holidays in July and August. Get a complete Japanese festival-going outfit, including a yukata (lightweight cotton kimono) and geta (Japanese slippers), from Hosekibako for the summer holidays coming up.


Star festival – Tanabata

July/August 7, 2016* (Seventh day of the seventh month)

*Different regions of Japan celebrate these holidays in different months because of differences in the Gregorian and lunar calendar.


History: The origin of Tanabata is based on a Chinese legend brought to Japan in the 8th century. Princess Orihime, a seamstress, was so hardworking that her father, the Heaven God, arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi, a cow herder on the other side of Milky Way. They fell in love immediately and got married. Their love was so deep that they both abandoned their practices. Furious, Orihime’s father forbade the lovers to be together, but out of love for his daughter, he let them meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month if Orihime continued to weave. Because the journey across the Milky Way was not possible with rain, every year Orihime and Hikoboshi prayed for good weather.

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Bamboo decorated with colorful wishes.

Current traditions: People write their wishes on small pieces of paper, called tanzaku, which are then hung from bamboo for the day and often burned or set afloat on the river the following day. Certain parts of Japan even have their own Tanabata customs.





Ocean/marine/sea Day – Umi no hi

July 18, 2016 (Third Monday of July)


History: Umi no hi is a day of appreciation for the prosperity the ocean has given to the Japan as an island nation. It is celebrated on the anniversary of the Emperor Meiji’s return to the Port of Yokohama from a tour of Tohoku and Hokkaido regions in 1941.


How you can celebrate: While Ocean Day does not have dominant traditions, use this day to go to the beach or the aquarium!


Mountain day – Yama no Hi

August 11, 2016


History: Yama no hi officially started only this year! It was created to give the overworked population of “salarymen” in Japan another day off. At the same time, it is a celebration of the mountains, considered to have a sacred spirit in Shintoism.


How you can celebrate: While Mountain Day also does not have dominant traditions, use this day to hike or to spend a fulfilling day with your family or friends in the spirit of taking time off.


Ancestor Commemoration – Obon

July/August 15, 2016* (15th day of the 7th month)

*Different regions of Japan celebrate these holidays in different months because of differences in the Gregorian and lunar calendar.

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Intricate costumes can be seen at Bon Odori.

History: Obon is an annual Buddhist festival to commemorate ancestors. It originates from the Tale of Mokuren, a discipline of Buddha, who saw that his late mother was suffering in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. Mokuren asked Buddha how he could help his mother. Buddha told him to give the monks of the Realm of Hungry Ghosts offerings and Mokuren did just that. Sure enough, the monks released his mother. An ecstatic Mokuren danced, giving way to the tradition of Bon Odori, the Obon Dance.


Current customs: Families visit their ancestors’ graves, give offerings to the shrine, and hang up lanterns so that their ancestors can find their way home. There is a festival and people eat festive food. And of course, they do Bon Odori. There are many dances, some general, some regional, and some specific to different towns.