In Japan, the beginning of the year is a special time. New Year’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays, and post-Christmas sales keep the stores busy. There are also many factors brands should consider when putting together a perfect marketing calendar for 2023!
In this video we go through the first months of the year outlining events you should include in marketing calendar.
January 1st is one of the biggest holidays in Japan. Oshōgatsu – the Japanese New Year – has many unique customs. Traditions like visiting a local temple at midnight, and eating elaborate osechi ryōri are what many households participate in.
Fukubukuro are special bags full of goodies from the store catalogue that people can purchase for a set price. The trick? People do not know what is inside of the lucky bags!
They are sold with a substantial discount during the first week of January. Many eager buyers head to the stores in hopes of snatching a good deal.
Nowadays, the lucky bags can be found in most shops across the country – from retail, department stores and ecommerce websites, to restaurants and cafes. This is a great way for businesses to liquidate the remaining stock and prepare space for new collections.
Seijinshiki – Coming of Age Day – is observed on the second Monday in January. It is a public holiday, when 20-year-olds around the country celebrate their entry into adulthood.
Festivities include ceremonies held at local prefectural offices, and after parties with family and friends. It is a tradition for young men and women to dress in suits and traditional kimono during that day.
January is also perfect for winter sports. Skiing, snowboarding, and other outdoor activities are particularly popular during this time. Many people decide on a trip to top winter destinations like Niseko in Hokkaido.
The season peaks from mid-January to late February. With lifted COVID-19 restrictions we can expect the travel industry to be especially busy. Many international tourists will be heading to Japan to enjoy the winter scenery.
Just like in many countries around the world, Japanese people celebrate Valentine’s Day, and the country goes crazy about… chocolate during this time. Chocolate makers take advantage of this tradition, and make half of their yearly profits during this period.
Yes, Japanese people do celebrate Valentine’s Day – but with a little twist. It is the girls who approach boys to present them with gifts. Boys then return the favour one month later on White Day, which we will discuss later on.
There are a lot of chocolate types popular during this time: honmei choco (for the person you are in love with), *giri choco (*for family members or coworkers), tomo choco (for friends), and jibun choco (a little sweet gift you give… yourself!).
February is also the time for… strawberries! There are a lot of strawberry fairs around the country (like Yokohama Strawberry Fair), and many hotels organise strawberry buffets. Fresh fruits, strawberry-flavoured desserts and candy is all the hype.
Hinamatsuri, also known as Doll’s Day, is a Japanese religious holiday observed on March 3rd. It is a celebration dedicated to girls, when parents pray for the happiness and good health of their daughters. People celebrate by holding parties and preparing traditional dishes. Those include clam soup, sweets made from rice and sugar, or rice cakes. Families also decorate their houses with hina dolls who are believed to protect girls from evil and misery.
As we mentioned earlier, Japanese people celebrate so-called White Day on March 14th, exactly one month after Valentine’s Day. It is when people return gifts to those who approached them during Valentine’s.
It was first observed in Japan in 1978, and since then has spread to other Asian countries as well. Popular gifts include food items like chocolate, marshmallows, or cookies. ‘White’ accessories such as bags, skincare products, jewellery, and lingerie are also popular.
In Japan, spring symbolises the beginning of shinseikatsu – ‘new life’ cycle. April is when the new financial year begins, and many people move across the country to start jobs or university. Hence, March is the time of busy preparations for big life changes.
People are searching for house-moving help services, furniture and appliances for new apartments, and refreshing their wardrobes. Farewell and thank-you gifts for people close to you are also popular during this time.. A lot of businesses take advantage of this period running ‘new life support’ campaigns. ‘Early bird’ or ‘bulk-buy’ deals are a common occurrence during that time.
March 21st is the first day of Spring, and the country covers in pink sakura cherry blossoms. It is one of the most popular times for tourists to visit Japan, and we can expect an increased amount of traffic in 2023, which will be the first time in 3 years since foreigners could enter the country without restrictions.
First blooming trees appear at the end of March, and people begin to throw hanami – picnics, BBQs, and parties under sakura trees. Businesses do not ignore this time and launch limited edition sakura-themed collections, menus, and events.
Unfortunately for some, blossoming flowers also mean the beginning of the hay fever season. People start looking for symptoms and remedies, as well as buy home appliances that help clean the air from pollen.
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Want to learn more? Read our series of blogs on crafting a perfect marketing calendar:
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