Seasons and culture of Japan

March in Japan

The month of March stands out for being a time of seasonal change, when winter starts transitioning to spring.  The weather in Japan becomes more dynamic, as low-pressure systems from the west and southwest flow easterly, one after another, over the islands -- bringing warmer air, as well as wind and rain.  The shift of seasons is commemorated as a national holiday on the Vernal Equinox (春分の日, Shunbun no Hi), which occurred on March 20th this year.  Of note, the Autumnal Equinox, (秋分の日, Shubun no Hi) is also a Japanese holiday, and will be observed on September 23rd.  Early in the month of March is Hina-matsuri (ひな祭り) or "Girls’ Day" -- held on March 3rd.  Families celebrate and honor the health and happiness of daughters.  Hina dolls and festive ornaments are displayed on red staircases, alongside offerings of peaches and red-and-white candies.  Schools are also busy during March, since it is the last month of the school year.  Graduation ceremonies are held, and in/around Yokosuka during that time, it is a common to see students and families dressed up in formal clothing or traditional style kimonos, walking to or from graduation events.  Also, entrance examinations for high schools are held during March.  When students complete their compulsory education (9th grade, Junior High School), they must decide on the next step to take in their lives, and the best road towards success is to get accepted into a reputable public or private high school -- and that means taking and passing a difficult examination.  There is a lot of pressure on 15-year-old kids to prepared and study for the tests -- it is sometimes called Ju-ken Ji-goku (受験地獄, examination hell).  Finally, March is the end of the official fiscal year, and so it is a busy time when income taxes must be paid, businesses will settle accounts, and personnel are reassigned or transferred.  Once March has ended and the many busy activities are completed, the Cherry Blossoms will be blooming in early-April, and a spring will arrive for a new beginning.


Written by Goodfield

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