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