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Dane: Tomorrow’s the 29th. I hear we’ve got the day off.

Yuji: Yes, it’s a national holiday.

Dane: What holiday is it?

Yuji: Uh, I don’t know.

Dane: Well, I’m sure the Japanese aren’t celebrating Obama’s 100th day in office. So, can anybody tell me what holiday April 29th is?

Reiko: It’s Greenery Day.green02-8001

Dane: But I heard May 4th is Greenery Day.

Fumio: That’s right. Starting last year they changed the 29th from Greenery Day to Showa Day and moved Greenery Day to the 4th.

Dane: So, what does Showa Day celebrate?

Daisuke: It’s the birthday of Emperor Hirohito, the Showa Emperor.php411

Fumio: It used to be, but not anymore. Now it celebrates the Showa Era of Peace.


SHOWA ERA: 12/25/1926 – 1/7/1989

Dane: That’s so Japanese. Conservative patriots like Daisuke can celebrate the war emperor and liberals like Fumio can celebrate peace — both on the same day!

Reiko: And next week we all celebrate Golden Week . Every day from the 3rd to the 6th is a holiday!

Dane: What’s the 3rd?

Reiko: I thinks it’s, uh, National Founding Day.

Fumio: No, that’s in February. May 3rd is Constitution Day.japanese-constitution-signing-page2

Dane: And the 4th is Greenery Day, so what’s the 5th?

Daisuke: It’s Children’s Day.dsc_0007

Dane: How do you celebrate that?

Daisuke: We fly koinobori fish wind socks for every boy in the family.

Dane: Only for the boys?

Daisuke: Yes, traditionally it’s Boys’ Day.

Reiko: Girls’ Day is on March 3rd, but it’s not a national holiday.

Dane: This is all very confusing. I’m afraid to ask about the 6th.

Fumio: Oh, the 6th is an alternate day off since Constitution Day is on a Sunday this year.

Dane:  OK.  I suppose it doesn’t really matter what you call it, as long as we get some days off.  But it seems like a lot.  How many national holidays do you have every year, anyway?

Yuji:  15 regular national holidays plus another 4 or more days off during New Year and the summer Obon festival.

Dane:  You’re kidding! Americans have only 9 national holidays.

Yuji:  We like to take our vacations at the same time, so we have more holidays and fewer personal vacation days.

Dane:  So I guess it’s impossible to go anywhere during New Year’s week, Golden Week and Obon week.

Yuji:  Normally, yes.  But this year with the economy so bad here and the swine flu overseas, it looks like most  everyone’s staying home.