Hiroshima Festivals

Hiroshima, the city best known for being flattened by an atomic bomb at the end of WWII, surprisingly downplays the significance of this event and prefers to celebrate the more positive traditional and contemporary festivals that Japanese culture is so rich in. Festivals in Hiroshima range from ancient traditions to the more modern 'respect for the aged' and sake festivals, along with some popular national festivals.  

Buddha's and emperor's birthdays are all celebrated in Hiroshima, together with many other seasonal festivities and more Western-style events, such as the International Animation Festival each August, and even Valentine's Day in February. The main festivals in Hiroshima, and other popular things to do during your stay, are all shown below.

Hiroshima National Public Holidays - Hiroshima, Japan, JP
  • Ganjitsu - January 1st (New Year's Day)
  • Seijin-no-hi - Second Monday in January (Coming of Age Day)
  • Kenkoku Kinem-bi - February 11th (National Foundation Day)
  • Shumbun-no-hi - March 20th or 21st (Spring Equinox)
  • Midori-no-hi - April 29th (Green Day)
  • Kempo Kinem-bi - May 3rd (Constitution Day)
  • Kokumin-no-Saijitsu - May 4th (Adjoining Holiday)
  • Kodomo-no-hi - May 5th (Children's Day)
  • Umi-no-hi - Third Monday in July (Marine Day)
  • Keiro-no-hi - Third Monday in September (Respect for the Aged Day)
  • Shubun-no-hi - September 23rd or 24th (Autumn Equinox)
  • Taiiku-no-hi - Second Monday in October (Health Sports Day)
  • Bunka-no-hi - November 3rd (Culture Day)
  • Kinro Kansha-no-hi - November 23rd (Labour Thanksgiving Day)
  • Tenno Tanjobi - December 23rd (Emperor's Birthday)

Hiroshima Calendar of Festivals and Events 2011 / 2012

Hiroshima Events and Festivals in January - Hiroshima, Japan, JP

  • Japanese New Year - held on January 1st, this day is the beginning of a holiday season that can last for up to 20 days, although only the first day is a public holiday. Japanese typically visit Buddhist temples at this time and send each other greeting cards. Traditional decorations adorn houses, such as symbols of bamboo and pine
  • Coming of Age Day - this is a special day and national holiday for those who will turn 20 in the forthcoming year. Traditionally an age that signifies adulthood, ceremonies are held, some of which serve alcoholic beverages to mark the young adult's new privilege of being able to get drunk

Hiroshima Events and Festivals in February - Hiroshima, Japan, JP

  • Setsubun - not a national holiday in Hiroshima, but instead a celebration to mark the arrival of spring. Traditions that are peculiar to this season are followed, with one being mamemaki, the throwing of beans. Roasted beans are hurled from people's homes as they relay a saying that is said to bring them good fortune. The Japanese also eat a number of soybeans or peanuts equal to his or her age in number
  • National Foundation Day - this national holiday, held on February 15th, is a day for reflection on the nation and is intended to strengthen patriotism. It formerly marked the ascension of Emperor Jimmu to the throne, but was later eliminated as a national holiday, until it re-emerged in its present form
  • Valentine's Day - February 14th, like the rest of the world, Hiroshima has adopted this celebration of love, with the exchanging of cards, flowers and chocolates between couples and admirers being common

Hiroshima Events and Festivals in March - Hiroshima, Japan, JP

  • Hinamatsuri - not qualifying as a national holiday, this girls' festival is also known as the Peach Festival. Girls are encouraged to display dolls that are dressed in the traditional costume of courtiers from the Heian period. Dolls are passed from generation to generation. Peach blossom is also typically displayed, while the eating of certain foods and drinks is said to heighten the girls' chances of marriage
  • Vernal Equinox - dating back to 806 AD, this national holiday that falls in the second half of March is a time to admire the beauty of nature and show love for living things. Typically, people visit the graves of their ancestors to tidy up the site, washing the tombstone and offering flowers

Hiroshima Events and Festivals in April - Hiroshima, Japan, JP

  • Flower Festival - Buddha's birthday is celebrated on April 8th with colour. Traditions include the drinking of ama-cha by children, a beverage made with hydrangea, while many people also pour ama-cha on statues of the Buddha
  • Greenery Day - having began as a celebration of the birthday of the Showa Emperor, this national holiday now marks the beginning of the Golden Week holiday period, which is an appreciation of friendship and nature

Hiroshima Events and Festivals in May - Hiroshima, Japan, JP

  • Constitution Memorial Day - commemorating Japan's post-war constitution which replaced the Meiji Constitution in 1947, this date is a national holiday
  • Children's Day - Golden Week culminated with this national holiday, which despite its name is specifically for boys. Families in Hiroshima signify they have a boy in the house by flying koi streamers, a tradition that originated in the Edo period

Hiroshima Events and Festivals in June - Hiroshima, Japan, JP

  • There are no significant events and festivals in June in Hiroshima

Hiroshima Events and Festivals in July - Hiroshima, Japan, JP

  • Tanabata - also referred to as the Star Festival, this festival has Chinese origins. According to legend, this day is supposedly the one night on which the lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi are able to meet. Shops and streets are typically decorated with bamboo and colourful plastic ornaments, then wishes are written on poem-cards and tied to the bamboo
  • Marine Day - established as a national holiday in 1996, this is a day for showing gratitude to the oceans. As an island nation, maritime prosperity is seen as very important

Hiroshima Events and Festivals in August - Hiroshima, Japan, JP

  • Memorial Service - August 6th, the official anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, with various memorial services taking place around the city and the Peace Memorial Park, where many thousands of paper lanterns are floated towards the A-Bomb Dome
  • Hiroshima International Animation Festival - this exciting festival includes screenings, competitions, lectures, seminars, exhibitions and workshops related to animation. The main focus is on the competitions, which include independent and commercial films, with many different categories
  • Obon - this two-day festival originated from the Buddhist urabon ceremony, which is a day when offerings are given to ancestors and parents. Bonfires are lit around Hiroshima to guide spirits home, so that they can collect the offerings. To end the ceremony, fires are lit again to guide the spirits back to the other world. This is not a national holiday, but many businesses close for the day and it is a popular time for Hiroshima city dwellers to return to their homes in the country. Travelling can be difficult at Oban, when trains and buses become fully booked and traffic jams cause delays

Hiroshima Events and Festivals in September - Hiroshima, Japan, JP

  • Respect for the Aged Day - honouring the aged is a long-held tradition in Japan, which is celebrated nationwide, providing everyone with the opportunity to lavish attention on the elderly and address problems they may be facing

Hiroshima Events and Festivals in October - Hiroshima, Japan, JP

  • Sake Festival - held in Higashi in east Hiroshima, this is a huge sake (rice wine) festival you will not want to miss
  • Health and Sports Day - this national holiday is a day for all citizens to enjoy sports, with numerous sporting and outdoor events held around the city. This day also marks the anniversary of the opening day of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics

Hiroshima Events and Festivals in November - Hiroshima, Japan, JP

  • Culture Day - a popular time to visit the city, this national holiday is a day of lively events that celebrate Japanese culture and traditions. Adopted in 1948, traditionally this day is the birthday of Emperor Meiji

Hiroshima Events and Festivals in December - Hiroshima, Japan

  • Emperor's Birthday - the birthday of the reigning emperor is marked as a national holiday. On this day, the Imperial Palace in Tokyo is open to the public and throngs of birthday-wishers wave Japanese flags in the emperor's honour on the occasion
  • Omisoka - towards the end of the year, bonenkai, or 'forget-the-year meetings' are held in Hiroshima. This often takes the form of a work party, when employers reward staff for their hard work. These parties typically involve large amounts of beer and sake