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What do Japanese people do on Spring Equinox Day?/春分の日は何をする日。

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Botamochi offering to ancestors at home altar.

Here in Japan, Spring Equinox Day is a holiday.
So is the Autumnal Equinox Day.

The equinoctial week is also known as “Ohigan”.
We celebrate Ohigan in spring and autumn.
Only the middle day of the Ohigan are declared as holidays.
This year (2022), we celebrated Spring Equinox Day on March 21.

Ohigan Equinox is the best time to visit the graves of our ancestors.
It is one of our ways to appreciate our happiness in our daily life and pray our ancestors for continuous protection.

We have four opportunities in a year to convey our appreciation to our ancestors, which are New Year’s Day, Spring Equinox Day, Autumnal Equinox Day and Obon.  

Equinox Days bring seasonal changes. We say that hot days and cold days last until Ohigan, which means the coldness will be over after Spring Equinox Day and the hotness will be over after Autumnal Equinox Day.

Have you ever counted how many ancestors we have?
One generation back: 2 persons-parents
Two generations back: 4 persons -grandparents
Three generations back: 8 persons – great-grandparents

Ten generations back: 1,024 persons
Twenty generations back: 1,048,576 persons
Thirty generations back: 1,073,741,824 persons

There is a long-lived relay of our lives.
If even one out of one billion ancestors was not there, we would not exist.
From the ancient times, the Japanese people have been strongly aware of this and have been in awe. 

Japanese people believe that our ancestors’ spirits are always beside us and protect us. 
The saying “Kusaba no Kage kara Mimamoru“, literally translated “Watch from the shadow of the grass field”, proves this blief.

We usually offer rice dumplings coated with red bean paste to the ancestor’s graves or home altar on both Equinox Days.
Interestingly, we call the same offerings as “Botamochi” in spring, while “Ohagi” in autumn.
It names after seasonal flowers, “Botan” or tree peony in spring and “Hagi” or bush clover in autumn.

Do you usually offer some food at the cemetery?
If yes, what are those?

【Translation for language learners of either English or Japanese】/英語・日本語学習者向け翻訳 えいご ・  にほんごがくしゅうしゃむ  ほんやく





1世代前: 二人-両親
2世代前: 四人-祖父母
3世代前: 八人-曽祖父母

10世代前: 1,024人
20世代前: 1,048,576人
30世代前: 1,073,741,824人






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  1. Avatarapril says:

    We often bring our ancestors’ favorite foods. We visit their graves at least 3 times a year: their birthday, death anniversary, and All Saints’/Souls Day.

    • MikiMiki says:

      Thank you for sharing your culture, April san ^^/
      We seem to have similar practices, don’t we?
      It’s new to me that you visit their graves on their birthday.
      Here in Japan, we consider their death anniversary as like their new birthday for afterlife.