Holidays and Events
Holidays are great scene fodder, equally adept at providing flavor for social scenes, reason to throw parties, or fun seasonal items to turn into rampaging monsters. This page lists various events, holidays, and festivals that your character will enjoy (or endure) while living in Tokyo, along with short descriptions.
The in-game calendar (accessed by the command +date) lists upcoming events, as well as informing you of the current in-character date. Due to the 2:1 timescale of Battle Fantasia, where two real-life days pass for every in-character day, it can be otherwise difficult to know what time of year it is for your character.
An asterisk (*) indicates school is cancelled for this event. The event descriptions are currently incomplete, but all currently pending events are filled out, and the rest will soon follow.
Club Activities Suspended for Finals - The week before final exams, afterschool clubs stop meeting so that students can focus on studying, and their regular activities cease. If you really want to RP with your club during this period, you'll have to secretly break the rules.
Final Exams - Finals at the Sister Schools are intensive and much-feared. For an entire week near the end of each semester, normal class ceases entirely, and students take final exams for the entire day. Students are released two hours early, and there are no club activities, but this is little consolation for all but the most apathetic of students, who tend to expend their extra time studying. Most classes have a final exam, though some less scholarly subjects like PE or home ec may instead have an alternate final project assigned before or after. Final exams are separate from entrance exams.
Final Exam results posted - The period between the end of finals and the start of break is the easiest academically; there are no more tests, and the teachers are often more indulgent. It can be a purgatory, however, for those who anxiously await their final exam scores, which are posted publically on a bulletin board in the hallway. It quickly becomes common knowledge who scored the highest and lowest, and the former commonly receive considerable admiration.
Midterms - Midterm examinations aren't as grueling as finals. Only the core subjects are tested, and there's half as much material covered. Like finals, however, they take the entire day, and club activities aren't held during this week.
School Break* -
School Semester -
Sumo Championship (late January, late March, mid September) -
Uniform Change (June 1, October 1) - Students wear their summer uniforms from June 1, and their winter uniforms from October 1. Both pleasant from a practical standpoint (it can be a bit sweaty by late May and chilly by late September) and from a symbolic one, the change is, yearly, the point of no return for the change of season.
New Year's Day* (January 1) -
Fireman's Parade (January 6) -
Winter Semester (early January - late March) -
Coming of Age Day* (mid January) -
Lunar New Year (late January/early February) -
Setsubun (beginning of spring) (February 3) -
Sapporo Snow Festival (February 5-11) -
Foundation Day* (February 11) -
Valentine's Day (February 14) - The Japanese Valentine's Day is unusual, in that only women are supposed to give out chocolate. It is otherwise very similar to the holiday as celebrated in other countries, with its focus on stylized hearts, gifts of chocolate, and romance. Handmade items are prized even more highly in Japan than in most countries, so many girls make their own chocolate for their crush in order to show their feelings more eloquently. Chocolate is also commonly given out to friends and classmates, so the size and quality of a chocolate gift is carefully considered so as to send the right message. A girl too shy to confess her feelings might well be able to gather the courage to give her crush a bigger chocolate than anyone else, after all. Those already in a relationship can celebrate it with a date, and those girls with no interest in romance this year might still want to hand some chocolates out, as anyone they give one to will have to return the favor on White Day next month.
Doll Festival (March 3) - After the long winter, a warm spring comes to Japan along with Hinamatsuri. Also called Girls' Day, it is a colorful, happy celebration for, and of, young girls. Families (as well as the wider community) pray for their girls' growth, well-being, and happiness. Parents help their daughters set out an elaborate, tiered display of wooden dolls (hinaningyou). The dolls, usually a gift from the girl's grandparents, can take quite some time to arrange, accessorize, and decorate, offering a similar sort of togetherness as setting up a Christmas tree might. Each doll represents a member of the Heian Imperial Court, from the Emperor and Empress down; the number of retainers and nobles has an obvious correlation to how much money a girl's grandparents make. The court is decorated with doll-sized furniture, rice cakes, and sake, and often further adorned with seasonal peach blossoms, giving the holiday the alternate name of "Momo no Sekku," or Peach Festival. Generations of little girl trauma and ruined fishing nets have mostly put a stop to the tradition of sending the poor dolls out to sea at the end of the festival, so today they are generally sent back to the closet before March 4, lest their lateness portend a late marriage.
White Day (March 14) - Since the Japanese Valentine's Day is for girls to give sweets to their sweethearts, White Day gives boys their chance to return the favor exactly a month later. The "white" in White Day is not incidental, and the chocolate, candy, and clothing given on White Day is frequently that color. As with Valentine's Day, not all gifts of chocolate indicate romantic interest: small quantities of cheaper chocolate are commonly given to classmates and friends, particularly any girls who made a similar gift on Valentine's. White Day gifts are expected to be considerably more expensive than the Valentine's gift that prompted them, and can include any romantic gift, not just chocolate. As might be expected, couples generally celebrate White Day with a date.
Vernal Equinox* (mid March) - When the day and night are equal in length, spring has officially begun. It is a testament to the connection between nature and Japanese tradition that this is a national holiday, one set aside largely for the appreciation of the gifts of spring. The best way to celebrate the Vernal Equinox is with one's family and, of course, outdoors. Various spring festivals in different parts of the country begin on this day, often with an emphasis on local farmers. Gardens, shrines, and parks are popular destinations, but due to how the bloom of spring represents the passage of time, the graves of one's loved ones are a common destination as well.
Tokyo International Anime Fair (late March) - Held yearly at a famous exhibition center in Tokyo Bay, the 'TAF' is a huge anime convention. Showrooms, interviews, signings, concerts, cosplay, dances, vendors, and viewings all combine to create a paradise for otaku.
Spring Break* (late March - early April) - Spring break in Japan is unusually significant, because it is the dividing point between academic years. This reinforces the feeling of new beginning that the return of flowers awakens in sensitive young hearts. Given that the cherry blossoms tend to be blooming at this time also, this can be a very emotional few weeks for all concerned. Not so emotional as to prevent a trip to the beach, of course.
Cherry Blossom Festival (late March - mid April) - Japan's iconic cherry blossom trees bloom right around the time students graduate. The beautiful pink flurry of their petals is a staple of poetry and symbolism, and the calming, cloudlike presence of the pastel trees can arrest even a cold heart. There is a sadness to cherry blossoms as well, as the painfully brief life of their petals, and the silent, lovely way in which they disappear recalls the impermanence of all things, particularly youth. This maudlin note only sweetens the sight while it lasts, and hanami, or flower-viewing, is celebrated near-universally during this period. Hanami can be as simple as a calm walk in a park, or as elaborate as a spring festival; picnics represent a popular compromise. Ueno Museum District, Tama River, Shinjuku Capital Ward, and Yoyogi Park are all popular locations for hanami.
April Fools' Day (April 1) - A day for pranks and lies took longer to catch on in Japan's often-serious culture than most others, and official organizations are very unlikely to indulge in any tomfoolery. Pranks by individuals and small informal groups are growing more popular lately, however.
Spring Semester (early April - late July) - The first of three semesters, which despite its name involves a lot of summer months as well. Club recruitment, new teachers, and haplessly confused freshmen characterize the semester of new beginnings.
Flower Festival (Buddha's birthday) (April 8) - Not to be confused with the cherry blossom festivals that immediately precede it, the Flower Festival is celebrated at all Buddhist temples. Offerings of flowers are brought to the temple to observe the Awakened One's birth, decorating his statues with them. Statues at temples or at home are bathed with a sweet-tasting tea called amacha made of hydrangea flowers. The tea can also be enjoyed by non-statues, who are typically better able to drink it.
Horseback Archery Festival (mid-April) -
Showa Day* (April 29) - The beginning of Golden Week and a national holiday, its importance often gets lost within the beginning of vacation. The imperial palace and government of Japan encourage the public to collectively reflect on the current condition of Japan and its future, and commemorate the lives lost during World War II, and the struggle to recover afterwards.
Darkness Festival (Kurayami) (April 30-May 6) - This actually takes place throughout the week but it starts on the 30th with festival participants cleansing themselves in the Shinagawa River near Ebara Shrine, then taking some of this water back to Okunitama Shrine to be used during the festival itself. There are parades, traditional costumes, even horseback archery displays. During the culmination of the festival on May 5, there are hundreds of stalls, including a market for garden plants, taiko drum displays, and fireworks. Over 700,000 people attend over the course of the week.
Golden Week* - Golden Week, the longest vacation period in the year for many Japanese workers, has begun! Students also have it off, of course, so there is no class and no club and, barring on-campus residents, campuses are largely closed. Holiday travel is very common both within and outside of the country; it's a great time to go to a resort for a couple of days (such as the hot springs in Nishitama), or to go camping, and so on. Golden Week exists in part because there are just a bunch of national holidays jammed into each other in the same week, so it made sense to just take the whole week off. Showa Day is the first of those holidays, and Children's Day is the last.
Constitution Day* (May 3 ) - A day to reflect on the meaning of democracy and Japanese government. The Diet building itself is opened to visitors for the day, allowing families to walk through the halls that are usually off-limits to ordinary people.
Green Day* (May 4) - A day to commune with nature and be thankful for its blessings. Commemorative planting of trees is popular, as is the drinking of the first picking of green tea at a fine tea house (expensive, but tasty).
Children's Day* (May 5) - A day to celebrate the happiness of all children, and to express gratitude towards mothers. Carp-shaped flags and samurai dolls are popular expressions of the holiday, and childrens' performances (choirs, bands, etc) are popular. Thousands of children compete in the "Kids' Olympics" held in Tokyo. Kashiwa-mochi -- mochi filled with red bean jam and wrapped in oak leaves -- is traditional.
Kanda Festival (mid May) -
Firefly (Hotaru) Festival (late May) -
Sanja Festival (late May) -
Change to summer uniform (June 1) -
Rainy season (early June - late July) -
Sanno Festival (June 8) -
Ajinomoto Flea Market Fair (June 15) -
Tanabata (July 7) -
Obon (July 15) -
Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival (late July) -
Summer Vacation* (late July - late August) -
Ocean Day* (late July) -
Summer Sonic Concert (mid August) -
Fukugawa Festival (late August) -
Fire Festival (August 26-27) -
Asakusa Samba Festival (August 31) -
Fall Semester (early September - late December) -
Tamayura Festival (early September) -
Leaves begin to turn (mid September) - Starting from Hokkaido to the north and working its way south, a lush autumnal patchwork of colors lights up the trees of Japan, reaching Tokyo around mid-September. The scenic beauty they provide is often considered autumn's answer to spring's cherry blossom festival, and many take this opportunity to go "leaf-viewing" by walking, hiking, driving, or camping.
Tokyo Game Show (late September) -
Respect-for-the-Aged Day* (late September) -
Autumnal Equinox* (late September) -
Change to winter uniform (October 1) -
Japanese Grand Prix (mid October) -
Health and Sports Day (mid October) -
Tokyo International Film Festival (October 17-25) -
Halloween (Oct 31) -
Culture Day* (November 3) - A government holiday set aside to celebrate the arts, academics, and Japanese culture. Art exhibitions, museum events, and culture-related celebrations such as parades and performances are all common observances. The majority of Japanese high schools choose to hold their Cultural Festival on this day, but please note that the Sister Schools of Battle Fantasia do not.
Japan Series baseball championship (early November) - The equivalent of the American (and sadly misnamed) World Series, the Japan Series is a seven-game championship series that leads to this day, the biggest game of the year. By far the most popular sport in Japan, baseball draws immense crowds and viewership, and so the final game of the Japan Series eats up much of the nation's media attention and watercooler talk when it occurs.
Chrysanthemum Festival celebration (November 14) - The second most popular of the various flower festivals (behind the cherry blossom), the chrysanthemum festival celebrates a flower with considerable cultural significance to Japan. The chrysanthemum (or 'mum') is the symbol of the Emperor, and many old katana are marked with this emblem. The festival, however, is primarily about celebrating the simple beauty of this flower. Like the Cherry Blossom Festival, it lasts for a month and has many events associated with it. On this particular day, a special celebration occurs at the Yushima Tenman shrine in Shitamachi, with traditional performances and vendors.
Labour Thanksgiving Day* (November 23) - The Japanese equivalent of America's Labor Day, with more emphasis on the human rights expanded by the post-WWII constitution, and less on unionized labor. Prior to WWII, this holiday was a harvest festival. For children, it is often used to give thanks for the labor of one's parents, and young children in particular can observe it by making drawings to give to their parents or the local police as thanks.
Tokyo Motor Show (late November) - Japan's auto industry is a major part of its success as a world power, and the Tokyo Motor Show makes news around the world. Cutting-edge concept cars and motorcycles are displayed by the various competing manufacturers, who struggle to show off as much engineering muscle as possible over a single weekend. The rich and famous love to be seen at the Motor Show, which spawns various official and unofficial parties in the evenings, most quite formal and expensive.
Japan Cup horse race (late November) - The biggest horse race event of the year. Horse-racing maintains somewhat more popularity in Japan than in America, though it is not a major cultural force. Betting on this race is popular, and the week before and after will involve a fair amount of small talk about it.
Christmas lights go up (late November) - Though Japan celebrates Christmas rather differently (and less intensely), its cities have a disproportionate tendency to elaborate Christmas light displays, particularly in commercial areas. During December, you can expect many buildings and trees to display lovely wintery lights. Certain parks and businesses will even convert their premises to actual light shows, with ambitious displays designed to attract viewers (and customers).
Battledore Festival (December 17-19) - A battledore is a wooden paddle used to play a traditional New Years' game called Hanetsuki. During the battledore festival, these paddles can be purchased at a popular fair in Asakusa. Most are intended to be decorative, particularly since the actual game isn't as popular as it was, and have ritual significance as well, as they are intended to help girls, particularly little ones, grow up healthy and strong. Most are decorated colorfully with anything from classical art to modern-day celebrities. Those who actually want to play the game often do so casually, indoors, in traditional dress, either attempting to keep a shuttlecock aloft themselves or batting it over to an opponent as in badminton. Victory is said to offer protection against mosquitoes during the following year, and who wouldn't want that? Failure incurs a punitive drawing on one's face with ink.
Japan Figure Skating Championships (December 20) - That most romantic of sports, figure skating, holds its final championship to determine the best in Japan. Men's singles, ladies' singles, pair skating, and ice dancing each receive their champion for the year. The Sister Schools' skating clubs will occasionally host events of their own to commemorate this, and watching the championship in person or on TV can provide welcome relief from final exams.
Emperor's Birthday* (December 23)-
Christmas Eve (December 24) -
Christmas (December 25) -
Winter Vacation* (late December - early January) -
New Year's Eve (December 31) -