Shunbun - fête japonaise

My Japanese fabric shop has just reopened and Hanami is just around the corner. I didn’t want to limit myself to articles about fabrics or tutorials, but I also wanted to share with you a bit of Japanese culture. What if I introduced you to the Shunbun no hi (春分の日) festival through this little article? You will see it is very inspiring.


Shunbun, or the spring equinox, is an important festival in Japanese culture. This celebration marks the beginning of spring and is considered a time of transition from winter, and a time for reflection and renewal. It takes place around 20-21 March and is a public holiday.

The Japanese celebrate Shunbun through ancient traditions and customs. It is also associated with beliefs and superstitions, such as the idea that eating green food during this period will keep you healthy for the coming year.

I’ll try to give you a quick overview of this holiday, and show you how it is celebrated in modern Japan, because yes, it is a tradition that is still struggling to survive… And what if there were lessons to be learned from all this?

Traditions and customs of Shunbun

Praying to the elders

One of the most important traditions is the Ohigan (お彼岸), which lasts several days. It is a very important family custom in Japan. During this period, families visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects. They make offerings and pray for the repose of their deceased.

Closer to nature

Another popular Shunbun tradition is the planting of flowers and vegetables. The Japanese often plant Sakura (桜) the famous cherry trees and Nanohana (菜の花) rapeseed, to celebrate the beginning of spring. This tradition is considered as a symbol of renewal and growth.

The famous spring cleaning

Here’s one tradition we know well, it’s none other than spring cleaning, called Ōsōji (大掃除), the big clean. This tradition involves carefully cleaning the house from top to bottom, throwing away unnecessary items (something I can never do … ) to sort of leave the past and ties behind.

And what about gastronomy?

Japanese people celebrate this holiday by enjoying traditional food such as delicious Botamochi (ぼたもち) or Sakuramochi (桜餅), fresh seasonal vegetables or soy dishes. I will tell you about a superstition about green vegetables further down in this article!

Beliefs and superstitions associated with Shunbun


This is an interesting part too. The beliefs and superstitions surrounding the Shunbun are deeply rooted in Japanese spirituality. During this time, it is believed that the world of the living and the world of the spirits are particularly close, thus fostering a closer connection between the two. Shunbun is therefore considered an auspicious time to honour the spirits of ancestors and the Kami (神) Shinto deities.

It is also a time of harmony and unity. The Japanese believe that is a time to strengthen the bonds between family members and friends, and to celebrate the beauty and transience of life together.


As far as superstitions are concerned, I remember two! For the first one, it is said that if you watch the sunrise on the day of the spring equinox, you will have a year of good health and prosperity. Today… the sky was overcast and it was raining in Kyoto… Bad luck for me.

But also to eat green foods which are considered beneficial for health and longevity (but I think you already knew that). In fact, you only have to go to the supermarkets on Shunbun day to see a lot more vegetables than usual on the shelves.

And there are so many more! They all reflect the richness and diversity of the beliefs surrounding Shunbun and contribute to the unique atmosphere of this festival.


In the age of urbanisation and globalisation, Shunbun traditions are evolving to fit our modern lifestyle. Despite the challenges this presents, the Japanese are making considerable efforts to preserve and promote this unique festival.

It shows us that Japanese culture knows how to reconcile modernity and ancestral traditions, perpetuating values and beliefs that have lasted for centuries. Frankly, I find it very inspiring, don’t you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

En commentant vous acceptez la Privacy Policy