The Japanese Summer has finally drawn to a close and as the weather cools, Japan will see some rapid changes. The greenery that came with the Summer will transitions to vibrant combinations of red, yellow and orange (even more orange if you count all the Halloween goods already on sale). Autumn is here.
Japan's September features two nationally observed holidays. This guide will briefly explain these national holidays, as well as the phenomenon referred to as Silver Week.
What holidays do Japan celebrate in September?
The first of the two holidays celebrated in September is Respect for the Aged Day (敬老の日).
The Respect for the Aged Day in Japan lands on the 3rd Monday of September each year and celebrates the wisdom, contibutions and long lives of elderly people in Japan.
Many Japanese people use the day as an opportunity to visit their parents or grandparents and throw parties for their older relatives, while leaving offerings at shrines in their homes or local areas to pay respect for older relatives who have passed away.
Did you know? Up until recently, Japanese people who lived to be 100 years old would receive a commemorative silver plate for drinking sake from the Japanese government on Keiro no hi, but due to the sheer number of elderly reaching this milestone, it has since been changed to a silver-coated plate to reduce costs.
This day is particularly important in Japan as nowadays the elderly population (people aged over 65 years old) makes up around 30% of the total Japanese population and is still growing.
The second holiday in September is the Autumnal Equinox (秋分の日).
It marks the day that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West at the same time, marking the time that both day and night are the same length, and the transition of Summer into Winter. Depending on the year, the exact date can change to September 22nd, 23rd, or 24th.
Given that this day marks the coming of Winter, many Japanese people use it as a final chance to enjoy outdoor activities before the weather turns cold in Winter. Some people also treat is as an opportunity to visit a temple or shrine to leave a prayer or make a wish or offering. It is also the time of year when red spider lilies (you know, those scary flowers from Tokyo Ghoul) bloom.
Botamochi, a rice ball covered with azuki, is eaten in celebration of the event. While not as common, you may also occasionally find cakes filled with azuki, similar to taiyaki, except in the shape of momiji Autumn leaves instead of the classic fish shape.
What is Silver Week?
Due to the fact that the exact date of these holidays is not decided, the number of days between them can vary each year. Some years, they land just a few days apart.
What does this mean? Take 2022, for example. If Respect for the Aged day lands on a Monday, and the Autumnal Equinox lands on the Friday of the same week, Japanese workers can take up to 9 days in a row off work while only using three days of paid leave.
Many Japanese people take this as an opportunity to go on overseas vacations or to relax at home with family. Workers who may have had to work during the Obon holiday in August are overjoyed at this second chance to relax.
But why is it called Silver Week? Some people say it refers to the white-silver hair of the elderly, while others say it became that way because centenarians anticipated the day their silver sake plate would arrive. While these explanations are both interesting and very cute, the real reason is due to TV ratings and sales data.
When everyone is at home with family, they buy lots of snacks, watch a lot of TV, give gifts, and in general stimulate the Japanese economy. Silver week is named this way simply because it is second to Golden week in this aspect.
What are the Business Implications of Silver Week?
In general many business that target the Japanese domestic market, like just as in Golden Week, have a really good run of sales during Silver Week.
There are however some issues that come with many staff all taking time off at once. Customer service based companies may run slower than usual and response times can blow out. Shipping and logistics companies have fewer drivers and workers to deliver goods, and that is on top of all the additional orders that people have placed once they have gone on holiday.
It is not quite as bad as Golden Week, but Silver Week definitely takes its toll on these businesses.
You might also find that smaller stores may close their doors for the week, opting to ship any orders that come through online, after the Silver Week holiday is over.
How will my ZenMarket orders be affected?
While ZenMarket is an International company, and take measures to ensure our orders are shipped out fast, ZenMarket is unfortunately not immune to the effect of the Silver Week holidays.
There are a number of factors that will impact the time it takes for your order to reach you.
Expect delays in product dispatch times by retailers (think the small retailer example we mentioned earlier) in addition to slower shipping times due to smaller workforce at shipping companies on top of larger order volumes.
ZenMarket employs both international and Japanese people in Japan, and some staff may opt to take time off to spend with their families. This may also lead to longer response, packing and dispatch times.
These delays are also compounded by the fact that some companies are still catching up on the backlog from the Obon holidays.
Also Read: HOW DOES OBON AFFECT SHIPPING?
We want to be upfront with you. ZenMarket believes it is realistic to expect these delays for the duration of Silver Week and for up to 10 days after it has ended, by which point we should have cleared through the backlog.
We will endeavor to get through this as quickly as we can to ensure you get the Japanese goods you are after as soon as possible.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.