Mother's Day in Japan: History and Traditions

Written by: Zuzanna Sato



Time to read 4 min

Mother's Day in Japan: History and Traditions

As I am writing this post, Mother's Day is just around the corner, and all the shops and commercials are reminding me to wish Mom a Happy Mother's Day.

You might be curious, though, if Mother's Day is celebrated in Japan?

Having lived here for over 15 years, I can tell you that Mother's Day is just as important here as it is in the West.

And what about Father's Day you ask? Find out here!

Especially school children are in a frenzy of making handmade cards, and sons are sending elaborate flower bouquets to their hometowns to show appreciation.

But it wasn't always that way.

In this article, let's explore how Mother's Day started in Japan and how it is celebrated. 


(If you are curious about other Japanese habits,

like for example how the Japanese deal with sweat and body odours,

click here 

Japanese Mother's Day 2024 : history and tradition.

When is Mother's Day in Japan?

In Japan, Mother's Day, known as Haha no Hi (母の日), is celebrated on the same date as in the United States, on the second Sunday in May.


So, in 2024 Japanese Mother’s Day is on the 12th of May.

Is Mother's Day celebrated in Japan?

Is Mother's Day Celebrated in Japan? Mother's Day in Japan 2024

This tradition has some interesting history, and many people wonder if the Japanese celebrate Mother's Day.

Despite its universality, there was a time when this celebration was forbidden in Japan.

Some say Mother's Day was introduced by Christian missionaries in 1913, while others claim it began to be celebrated in 1931, with March 6th chosen as the date to coincide with the birthday of Empress Kojun, mother of the then Emperor Akihito.

The truth likely lies somewhere between these accounts, with perhaps missionaries initially introducing the concept, later adapted to honor Empress Kojun. 


During World War II in Japan, the celebration of any Western custom, including Mother's Day, was forbidden.

This prohibition suggests a connection to Christian missionaries or Western influences.

However, with the end of the war in 1949, Mother's Day returned to the Japanese calendar.

This time, the date was changed to the second Sunday in May, aligning with the United States' observance. Since then, Mother's Day has become widely celebrated across Japan, honoring mothers for their unwavering love and dedication.  

How does Japan celebrate Mother's Day?

How Does Japan Celebrate Mother's Day

In Japan like in any other country, giving gifts to mothers on Mother's Day is a cherished tradition, and the selection of presents often reflects deep appreciation and love.

One of the most iconic gifts is the carnation flower. 

In Japanese culture, flowers hold deep symbolism, and you can find out more about why carnations are traditionally given on Mother's Day and explore other meanings here.

Red carnations, in particular, are commonly chosen to symbolize love and gratitude for mothers' enduring love and sacrifices. 

Pink carnations may also be given to convey admiration and appreciation, while white carnations are reserved for honoring mothers who have passed away, often placed at their gravesites as a sign of remembrance. 


Beyond flowers, chocolates and sweets are popular gifts, often presented in beautifully decorated boxes or packaging.

These sweet treats symbolize the sweetness of the relationship between a mother and her child, as well as the joy and happiness she brings to the family. 


Additionally, handmade gifts and cards hold a special place in Japanese Mother's Day celebrations.

Children often spend time crafting personalized cards and creating heartfelt messages to express their love and appreciation for their mothers.

These handmade gestures carry a unique sentimental value and are cherished by mothers as heartfelt tokens of their children's love. 


In recent years, other thoughtful gifts such as spa vouchers, skincare products, and luxurious bath items have also become popular choices, offering mothers the opportunity to indulge in self-care and relaxation. 


If you want to find out more about perfect Japanese gifts for Mother's Day, check out this article. (I don't get anything for recommending this site, I just think they are really good for getting top shelf Japanese gifts internationally.


Overall, the gifts given on Mother's Day in Japan reflect a desire to honor and express gratitude to mothers for their unwavering love, support, and dedication.

Whether it's a simple carnation, a box of chocolates, or a handmade card, the sentiment behind the gift holds immense value in celebrating the special bond between a mother and her child. 

Celebrating Mother's Day in Japan - The Conclusion

As you can see, Mother's Day in Japan is a deeply meaningful celebration that honors the incredible contributions and sacrifices made by mothers everywhere.

How do you celebrate Mother's Day in your country?

Do you have any unique traditions or special ways of showing appreciation to the mothers in your life?

When it comes to giving gifts on Mother's Day, what are your usual go-tos?

Do you opt for flowers, chocolates, handmade crafts, or something else entirely?

Share your gift-giving traditions with us! 

Zuzanna Sato,  blog author, fashion designer
Image from DressYourColor

Zuzanna Sato, fashion designer, founder of DressYourColor

Hi! I'm Zuzanna, the founder of a luxury slow fashion brand based in Japan.

I use vintage Japanese textiles to create sustainable fashion that revels in color and beauty.

I love giving new life to kimonos that can no longer be used in their original form.

In my designs, I use oversized silhouettes to showcase incredible Japanese textiles in all their glory.

I revel in maximal style: bold shapes, patterns, and anything that glitters.

I hope you visit me often and that we can enjoy the beauty of Japanese textiles together! 😊

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