Vernal Equinox Day, Japan

Vernal Equinox Day, Japan

Vernal Equinox Day, Japan


Celebration Date
21st March
Other Name
Spring Equinox Day(Shunbun no Hi)
Holiday Type
National Holiday


Vernal Equinox Day (Shunbun no Hi) is a public holiday in Japan that occurs on the date of the Northward equinox in Japan Standard Time (the vernal equinox can occur on different dates in different time-zones), usually March 20 or 21. The date of the holiday is not officially declared until February of the previous year, due to the need for recent astronomical measurements. apan’s national holiday, The exact time and date of the sun shifting over the equator varies year-to-year, but this year, the vernal equinox will be Vernal Equinox Day (also known as Spring Equinox Day) will also be held on this day.


History of Vernal Equinox day

he vernal equinox ('Shunbun no Hi') is a welcome holiday as it marks the end of winter and the arrival of spring. At the same moment that the vernal equinox occurs in one hemisphere, it is the time of the autumnal equinox in the other hemisphere. Shunbun no Hi is actually part of a seven-day celebratory period known as “Haru no Higan”, of which the term “higan” means “another world”. As you may have guessed, Haru no Higan is a time to pay tributes to the spirits, or more specifically, the spirts of loved ones. There are two higan seasons in Japan, and they both correspond to the dates of the equinoxes.

As such, the celebratory practices during the higan periods are very similar. During these times, trips to ancestral family graves are common, as is a popular food known as “bota mochi” (or “ohagi” during the autumn higan). Bota mochi is a chewy ball of sweet rice, frequently used as an offering at shrines, temples and graves across Japan. In 1948, the holiday was changed to its current form as part of post war reforms that converted religious holidays into secular holidays. The day is intended to celebrate the love of nature and living things. In modern Japan, the day still maintains its older traditions as visiting family graves and holding family reunions is a common way of celebrating the equinox.


Vernal Equinox Day Celebrations

Vernal Equinox Day is a public holiday – most people will have the day off work. The date can fluctuate depending on time zones and general margin of error, but generally it takes place on the 20th or 21st March in Japan. Because of this, the specific date of the public holiday is announced as late as February of the previous year because of the need for precise astrological measurement. The 2018 Vernal Equinox Day takes place on the 21st, as will the 2019 celebrations. Before its current incarnation, the date was actually used for a Shinto event called Shunki koreisai. This was a religious day, but it was changed following Japan’s 1948 post-war constitution which separated church and state.

Vernal Equinox Day is the non-religious holiday that came out of this change, and it specifically celebrates a love of nature and all living things. Although it is now officially a secular holiday, many of the original Shinto traditions still play a big part in how Vernal Equinox Day is celebrated. In the past, the original Shinto holiday was used to venerate and honour past Emperors of Japan. In the present day, Vernal Equinox Day sees families travel to reunite and spend time with each other when they perhaps couldn’t at another time. This is only the case when in the northern hemisphere, where Japan is. In the southern hemisphere, the rising and setting of the sun is inverted, and rather than the Vernal (or Spring) Equinox it is the southern hemisphere’s Autumnal Equinox.



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