Updated April 16, 2024

School’s Out: Your Guide To Japan’s School Holidays


Japan Dev Team

Japan Dev contributor

Whether you have kids or not, knowing Japan’s school holiday schedule is crucial if you’re an expat living in Japan.

If you have children who go to school, these are your “on duty” days as you’ll have the kids all to yourself, so you’ll need to plan your schedule accordingly.

Even if you don’t have kids, knowing when the schools go on break can give you an idea of when public places and vacation destinations will be most crowded. This way, you can avoid traffic jams and big, loud crowds.

So, here’s your complete guide to Japan school holidays, and what a regular school year looks like in Japan.

An Introduction To School Holidays In Japan

The school year in Japan is separated by three long breaks:  

  • Spring vacation (春季休業日 =しゅんききゅうぎょうび)

  • Summer vacation (夏季休業日 =かききゅうぎょうび)

  • Winter vacation (冬季休業日 =とうききゅうぎょうび)

I’ll delve into the specifics of each, including their duration. As a general rule, public elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools within the same city, ward, town, or village, usually have these long vacations at the same time. 

Alternatively, if you’re looking for the school holiday dates of a specific school, you can also look up the name of the school and add “年間行事予定表” (annual events timetable) online and it should show up. 

Finally, another way to find out the specific school holidays for the region you’re in is by Googling the name of your city along with “ 小中学校管理規則 =しょうちゅうがっこうかんりきそく” (elementary, middle school regulations). Usually, you’ll see the official regulations set by the local Education Board among the first few results.

If you’re looking for the dates of a specific break, you can use the vocabulary provided to make your search more specific as well.

With that out of the way, let’s get into the specifics of each school holiday in Japan.

Kicking Off The School Year In Japan: Why In April?

In many parts of the world, especially in Western countries, the school year starts in September. However, this isn’t the case in Japan.

The school year in Japan starts in April, and there’s a popular and reasonable explanation for why this is the case.

Ever since the Meiji period of Japan, which dates back to the 19th century, the schools have begun in April in the country.

The reason is mainly due to the fiscal year ending in March and a new one starting in April in Japan, making it easier for tax purposes as well as receiving government funding.

Of course, in today’s global world, many people in Japan, including politicians, voice their concerns regarding this difference that sets them apart from many other countries in the West.

That said, considering the effects a sudden change may have on students and the education system as a whole, the lawmakers are hesitant to make the leap.

The Longest School Break In Japan: When Is The Summer Break?


Summer break still exists here, and it’s the longest school break in Japan. The only difference is that it starts a bit late, and it may be shorter compared to some countries where summer vacation can get up to 3 months.

In Japan, the summer break is around 40 days long, and it usually begins in mid-to-late July.

Keep in mind, however, that there isn’t a set date for all schools in Japan to start the summer break. Instead, each prefecture decides on its own, and the beginning and end dates, as well as the length of the break, vary from prefecture to prefecture.

Summer break usually ends at the end of August, allowing schools to kick off once again in September.

When Is The Winter Break In Japan?

Once the school picks back up again in September, the students in Japan get back to their hardworking schedules until the winter break, which is one of the three major breaks students go through in addition to the summer and spring ones.

The winter break, however, can be considerably shorter in the warmer regions. Each prefecture has its own systems and dates, but generally, the average is 10 days for the warmer regions, while the rest of the world has a winter break of two weeks, for comparison.

The exact dates change each year, but the winter break usually happens in late December everywhere in Japan (with the exception of colder regions like Hokkaido), and includes the New Year holiday as well. If you’re curious about the national holidays, you can refer to my post where I introduced all the important dates and vacation days in Japan.

A Longer Winter Break in Colder Regions

I excluded the colder regions of Japan when mentioning the general dates because, considering the extremely cold weather conditions places like Hokkaido receive during the winter, these regions take a much longer winter break. 

If you’ve seen my guide to snowboarding in Japan, you know that Japan has plenty of snowboarding/skiing regions that receive lots of snowfall, especially in winter.

This is why, on average, winter breaks in the colder regions of Japan last about three weeks long. 

Granted, this is subject to change and depends on how harsh the winter is. As the government doesn’t want school schedules and the students to be affected by the snow storms, they usually postpone the start of the new term if the weather calls for it.

This even allows the government to save on extreme heating and operation costs that escalate alongside the harsh weather conditions. In fact, for this very reason, some schools in Hokkaido even have a two-semester system instead of the usual three you see throughout Japan. This is extremely rare, but it’s still something to keep in mind.


The Spring Break In Japan: Ending The School Year

Once the winter break ends at the beginning of the new year in January, the students go in for another semester of school, which is the final one of the three school terms here. 

Similar to the winter break, spring break also lasts between 10 and 20 days. Once again, the beginning and end dates, along with the full length of the break, vary for each prefecture.

For most prefectures, the spring break starts at the end of March and includes the first week of April. 

Unlike winter break, however, spring break allows for a softer return to the busy school schedule for students. This is because Japan’s spring months bring along numerous vacation days and special dates (the golden week), allowing students to have occasional days off throughout April and May.

Spring break, being the final vacation of a school term in Japan, is also the break between the previous school year and the new one for most students. 

Usually, schools hold the closing ceremonies around March 25th, while the entrance or “new school year” ceremonies are held around the 5th or 6th of April.

Other School Holidays For Students In Japan

While the winter, spring, and summer breaks are the three major ones that separate the terms of a school year, they aren’t the only dates schools are on holiday.

Here are all of the public holidays in 2024 and 2025 that will be observed during the coming school year on school days:

  • Constitution Memorial Day, May 3, 2024: This is a public holiday to remember the day Japan’s Constitution was formed back in 1947.

  • Respect for The Aged Day, September 16, 2024: A day to remember the elderly and older family members like grandparents.

  • Health and Sports Day, October 14, 2024: A day to emphasize the importance of good health and sports, observed on the second Monday of October.

  • Coming of Age Day, 13 January, 2025: A day to celebrate new adults, where 20-year-olds are dressed in traditional outfits. Observed on the second Monday of January.

  • National Foundation Day, February 11, 2025: The date Japan’s first emperor ascended to the throne in 660 B.C.

  • Vernal Equinox Day, March 20, 2025: Marking the day of the spring equinox, the specific date of this holiday changes every year.

After the Vernal Equinox comes spring break, and the school year for elementary and high schoolers is over once again. 

If you want to take a look at the full list of public holidays in Japan, check out my post on vacation days in Japan to get all the details.


Answering Frequently Asked Questions: The Down-Low

That’s it for the school holidays in Japan, but before I go, let’s answer some frequently asked questions on the topic for those looking for shorter answers.

What’s The Longest School Break In Japan?

The summer break is the longest school break in Japan, as it usually lasts for about 40 days, although the exact length varies depending on the prefecture.

How Long Are School Holidays In Japan?

Unlike the summer holiday, the other two major school holidays in Japan, winter and spring break, are notably shorter. Like the summer break, these also vary based on the prefecture when it comes to the exact length of the holidays. 

For instance, the length of spring break varies depending on the region and lasts between 10 and 20 days.

How Long Is School Winter Break In Japan?

While the winter holiday lasts about 10 days in the warmer regions of Japan, colder regions like Hokkaido are a special case. As winters can be harsh in Japan with lots of snowstorms, the winter break at schools in the region can get up to three weeks long, while the rest of the world has a winter break of about two weeks.

How Long Are Holidays In Japan?

Each year, elementary, junior high, and high school students in Japan get an additional number of holidays due to public holidays occurring on school days. What’s more, the exact duration and number of vacation days vary from region to region, as stipulated in the School Education Law Enforcement Order. 

In general, the exact number of school days varies between 200 and 210 days, while vacation days add up to 55 to 70 days in total. As I mentioned, places like Hokkaido can have longer breaks depending on the weather conditions.

During the 2024-2025 school year, students get an additional 6 days off from school next to the scheduled summer, spring, and winter breaks.

While this is all I have for school holidays, if you’re looking for international schools for your children, I recommend checking out my post on the best international schools in Japan. If your children are older or you’re considering a college education in Japan, check out my other post where I introduce the best universities in Japan


Japan Dev Team

This post was written by our Japan Dev editorial team.