How to use your annual leave efficiently in Japan

How to use your annual leave efficiently in Japan


One of the best things you can get from working in a Japanese company is the paid annual leave, which you can get after working consecutively for six months. Your first paid annual leave will be for 10 days, so you need to use it efficiently if you plan to explore Japan, or other countries on your days off.


First, you need to know the annual leave legislation in Japan


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The minimum paid annual leave is regulated by law in Japan, and you are eligible to have 10 days annual leave in your first year if you fulfil the conditions below:


- You’ve been working for at least 30 hours a week

- Presence of more than 80%        

- You’ve been working for 6 months


Your annual paid leave will increase the longer you stay at a company, and it stacks for 7 years to up to 20 days of paid leave per year. During your paid leave you will receive the same salary as if you worked your usual hours as set in your contract.


Years worked








Days of paid leave









The paid leave can be carried over to the next year if unused, but it will expire after two years.


So, how can you use your annual leave efficiently?


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You need to know the ABC of Japanese holidays to use your annual leave efficiently. Below is the public holidays for year 2021.





New Year’s Day

January 1

Coming of Age Day

January 11

National Foundation Day

February 11

Emperor’s birthday

February 23

Vernal Equinox Day

March 20

Showa Day

April 29

Constitution Memorial Day

May 3

Greenery Day

May 4

Children’s Day

May 5

Marine Day

July 22

Sports Day

July 23

Mountain Day (observed)

August 9

Respect for the Aged day

September 20

Autumnal Equinox Day

September 23

Culture Day

November 3

Labor Thanksgiving Day

November 23


In addition to the public holidays, you need to know about unofficial holidays listed below.





August 13-15

Year-end holidays

December 28-31

New Year’s holidays

January 1-3


Most Japanese companies close their office during Obon, and if they don’t close during Obon, usually they will give you 3 days off that can be taken in July, August, or September, but those holidays are upon request, so you need approval from your manager. The year-end holidays and New Year’s holidays vary depending on which company you are working for, but most companies start the year-end holiday from December 28.


One of the best ways is to connect your annual leave with public holidays, and if you do this, you can get at least 2 weeks off, but not every company allows you to do so, so make sure to discuss it with your manager first before taking your days off.


Once you get your approval, you can follow one of the patterns below to make the most of your annual leave.


Use your annual leave during Golden Week


Golden Week is a week from April 29 to early May containing a number of Japanese holidays, and you can use your annual leave during this period if you want to travel abroad. We recommend scheduling your days off as follows:



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Annual leave