Topic 1 Unit 3 Expand!

Learn about how Japanese people celebrate their birthdays.

Learn more about Japanese National holidays and Special days for celebration.

Children’s Day – 5 May

Thi was originally the Boys’ Festival Day. For a few weeks around this date, colourful wind socks, each made in the form of a carp, and coloured streamers are raised on poles. The streamers at the top of the pole blow out in the wind, and below them are usually several carp attached on under the other. The carp was chosen as a symbol for boys, because of its strength and courage. It can swim up fast streams and jump waterfalls without wavering.

This is one holiday in what the Japnese call 「ゴルデンウィーク」, ‘Golden Week’ – a week with four holidays! (See below)

ひなまつり, known as the Doll’s Festival or Girls’ Festival – 3 March


On this day, girls display a group of dolls on a set of steps. On the top step are the Emperor and Empress. Below them are ladies in waiting, courtiers, musicians and warriors. All the dolls are very elaborately clothed and are fully equipped with detailed miniature musical instrument, weapons and other such artefacts of ancient times. They are displayed pieces and are handled with the greatest care, rather than being dolls in the sense of cuddly toys.

The girls invite each other to their homes, have cakes, dress up in their best clothes, and for that day are the most important members of the household. After a few weeks, the dolls are taken down from their stand, carefully wrapped, and stored away for the next year, and sometimes for next generation.

National holidays in Japan

  • 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • 2nd Monday of January – Coming-of-Age Day
    Everyone who turns 20 in that year is invited to a civic ceremony to celebrate becoming an adult. The girls are dressed up in beautiful expensive kimonos. The men wear business suits.
  • 11 February – National Foundation Day
  • 21 March – Vernal Equinox Day
  • 29 April – Showa Day (from 2008)
    This day used to be the previous Emperor’s birthday
  • 3 May – Consitution Memorial Day
  • 4 May – Greenery Day (from 2008)
  • 5 May – Children’s Day
  • 3rd Monday of July – Marine Day
  • 3rd Monday of September – REspoect-for-the-Aged Day
  • 23 September – Autumn Equinox Day
  • 2nd Monday of October – Sports Day
  • 3 November – Culture Day
  • 23 November – Labour Thanksgiving Day
  • 23 December – Emperor’s Birthday

Topic 1 Unit 4: Talking about Birthdays


By the end of this unit, you will:

  • enhance your understanding of the Japanese national holidays,
  • enhance your understanding of how Japanese people celebrate birthdays,
  • be able to ask and say when your birthday is,
  • be able to talk about what you will do and did for your birthday and
  • be able to invite someone to do an activity with you.


  1. Expand!
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Kanji
  4. When is your birthday?
    (Months, Dates and Days of the Week)
  5. Understanding verbs
  6. What will you do on your birthday?
  7. Would you like to come to my birthday party?