Japanese Events and Holidays in February

February 3rd:  Setsubun 

The original “Setsubun” means the division of the seasons and is an event to pray for our happiness and health. Nowadays, “Setsubun” is an event held on February 3 or 4, the day before “Risshun (the first day of spring)”, to throw beans and drive away demons. 

In each family, children tell adults wearing “Ogre” masks, “Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi. (Ogre, go outside! God of happiness, please come inside the house!)” and enjoy throwing beans.

It is also said that if you eat the same number of beans as your age on “Setsubun” day, you will be strong and will not catch a cold.

Setsubun” is also the day to eat “Eho-maki”. “Eho-maki” is a thick sushi roll that is considered to be good luck if eaten facing the “Eho (Good fortune direction of the year)”.

February 11th:  Kenkoku Kinen-no-Hi (National Foundation Day)

February 11th is “Kenkoku-kinen-no-hi” and it is translated National Foundation Day. Even though it is called National Foundation, it is not a historical date of the beginning of Japan. According to the Japanese myth, the first Emperor Jimmu acceded to the throne on that day in 660 BC. It was decided that Japan was founded on that date because no historical basis has been found.

February 14th:  St. Valentine’s day

In Japan, Valentine’s Day is all about chocolate. In 1970s it became a widespread custom for women to confess their love to men with chocolates on this day.
Later, it became popular with “giri-choko,” people handing out chocolates to friends, family, and workplaces as a gesture of gratitude. However recently, more and more women are exchanging chocolates with each other or buying chocolates as a “reward” for themselves.
March 14th is also known as “White Day,” a day for men to give back to women.

February 23rd: The Emperor’s Birthday

The Emperor’s Birthday is a national holiday in Japan.