The Essence of Fatherhood: Embracing Father's Day in Japan

by Nana Young
Dad in superhero costume holds son on his shoulders. honor fathers, Happy Father's day greeting card. Cartoon character

Father’s Day is a time to celebrate the influential paternal figures in our lives. No matter where you are on the day, don’t miss out on the opportunity to show gratitude not just with gifts but also with a clear understanding of Japanese traditions regarding the day of Father’s Day.

Marking the Calendar: When is Father's Day in Japan 2024?

Board with text HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, cup and gift box on table to celebrate dad

Japan’s next Father’s Day falls on Sunday, June 16, 2024. The country celebrates Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June every year. Also known as Chichi no Hi (day of the father), it’s a day to honor and appreciate fathers, fatherhood, and father figures at home and in society. Japan celebrates Father's Day on the same day as most of the rest of the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. However, the country maintains its own traditions and customs for honoring fatherhood. 

Father's Day in Japan is not a public or federal holiday, but that takes nothing from its importance. People celebrate by sharing gifts, eating elaborate feasts, and going on outdoor adventures with their dads. They also show gratitude to their fathers by leaving heartwarming messages or gestures. Corporate Japan is not left out, as companies offer corporate gifts and host special events.

There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to Father’s Day in Japan. Thankfully, we’re here to walk you through the entire process, from crafting inspiring messages to shopping for the perfect gift. Let’s get started!

The Essence of Father's Day in Japan

happy three generation asian family celebrate father's day at home, not a national holiday

Much like Father's Day in other countries, Father's Day in Japan is set aside to honor not just fathers but also anyone who has played the role of a father figure. The day involves showing gratitude for the guidance and sacrifices made by father figures.

Most people in Japan prefer to celebrate Father’s Day by giving gifts. Others would rather spend quality time with their family. The gift-giving culture for the day comes with a unique twist because most of the presents are edible. They include sake (Japanese rice wine), shochu (Japanese distilled beverage), gourmet foods, and wagashi (Japanese sweets). The gift-giving customs don’t end there, as some people also give their fathers fashion items and sports equipment.

Father’s Day in Japan is a family affair. People travel home to enjoy dinner with parents and siblings. The traditions surrounding this special day have been around for decades and a lot of them have remained largely unchanged. However, there has been a more modern take on some of the practices recently.

Traditions Old and New: Celebrating Father's Day in Japan

Portrait of an Asian father and daughter is Lying happily talking in bed together, such a day celebrated annually

Father’s Day first appeared in Japan in the late 20th century. Before then, it was already popular in the United States, where it originated. The story is that in 1909, a young woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, the daughter of a war veteran, heard a Mother’s Day sermon in church and felt something wasn’t right. Her father, William Jackson Smart, had raised six kids as a single parent. Hence, Sonara told her pastor about the need for a similar holiday to honor fathers. The first Father’s Day celebration was on June 19, 1910.

Unlike Mother’s Day, which was readily accepted, Father’s Day took some time to catch on. Before Sonara, Grace Golden Clayton had unsuccessfully tried to establish a similar holiday on the Sunday closest to her father’s birthday. Several notable figures and members of the Father's Day Council fought to make it an official holiday, and in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed and approved it as a permanent national holiday in the US.

Since it came to Japan, the main focus of Father’s Day has been on gift-giving customs. Traditional practices involved giving fathers alcohol, food, and clothes. Many of these gift items were handmade or store bought. With the rise of online shopping in modern Japan, children and spouses now order gift boxes filled with a combination of treats and fashion items. Even people abroad can send gifts to their fathers in Japan with ease.

While these innovations are great, many fathers would rather spend time with their children. Japanese traditions encourage family meals, and on Father’s Day, you might find the entire family at the dinner table. The meals on that day are special, and although this is a rare occurrence, people traveled long distances to see their fathers. Modern technology, such as virtual meetings and tours, has made it easier for busy people to spend time with their parents on Father’s Day. 

Gifts of Gratitude: Popular Father's Day Presents in Japan

Happy Asian young father surprise with red gift box and heart colored greeting cards from daughter

Looking for the best Father’s Day gift ideas? We’ve got you covered thanks to our curated list of popular gifts for Father's Day in Japan. We asked hundreds of fathers what they wanted on their special day and used their responses to rank these gifts based on popularity. Check them out!

1. Gourmet Foods and Treats: The best gourmet foods for the occasion are the exquisite traditional meals available in stores and restaurants. Wagyu (beef from Japanese cattle breeds) and kabayaki unagi (grilled eel) are some of the favorites. Gourmet treats consist of high-quality traditional and contemporary sweets and snacks, typically eaten with tea. Their delicious taste and exquisite packaging make them the perfect gifts for beloved fathers in Japan. Find gift boxes filled with unique gourmet treats by exploring the Bokksu Boutique Collection for men. You can take the originality up a notch by giving a Bokksu Snack Box Subscription, which provides a monthly supply of gourmet sweets and snacks from Japan.

2. Alcoholic Beverages: Lots of Japanese fathers are familiar with indigenous alcoholic drinks like sake, shochu, and highball. They’ll love to have premium bottles along with complete sets that enhance the drinking experience. Ceramic sake sets with a decanter and mugs are especially popular.

3. Fashion Items: The most popular fashion clothes and accessories among fathers in Japan are kimonos, jinbei (traditional casual attire), neckties, socks, wallets, handkerchiefs, and watches. 

4. Sports Equipment: Sporting goods are among the top five gifts loved by fathers in Japan. They like to stay active as they get older, and sporting goods make it easier for them to achieve fitness goals. Common sports-related goods that make fantastic presents are portable ellipticals, smartwatches, home fitness devices, running shoes, and sportswear.

5. Personalized Items: Last on our list but still a top 5 gift idea are personalized gestures and items such as letters, cards, portraits, and tickets or vouchers to their favorite places. Send them these items along with lovely flowers. You could also carry them with you if you can afford to visit. Hand the gifts to the father with a word of gratitude before sitting down for a Father’s Day feast.

Feasting in Honor of Fathers: Special Father's Day Meals

many eat Sashimi Japanese food, Sashimi set. Salmon, wasabi, fish, shrimp to celebrate dad in Japan

When it comes to the family meal on Father’s Day, there are two common practices: homemade dishes and restaurant outings. The first option is for the immediate family to gather around the table to eat gourmet foods like wagyu and unagi. Common home-cooked recipes include meals made with chicken, spring rolls, tofu, clams, pork chops, sushi, and edamame.

Parents and their adult children can also go out for some beer and street food at izakayas (drinking places). Common Father’s Day dishes served at restaurants and izakaya include yaki onigiri (grilled rice balls), karaage (fried chicken), sashimi, and sushi. 

Out and About: Father's Day Activities Across Japan

Besides restaurant outings, there are various activities perfect for Father's Day. The following are outdoor adventures and cultural experiences that families can enjoy together:

  1. Visit a theme park: The entire family, including kids, can spend time at the nearest Japanese theme park. Enjoy dizzying rides, play games, and eat sweet treats with your loved ones. There are several fun amusement parks in the country. Tokyo Disneyland, Universal Studios Japan, and Fuji-Q Highland are some of the most popular.

  2. Attend a tea ceremony: With Japan’s passionate tea culture, it shouldn’t be hard to find tea houses hosting ceremonies on Father’s Day. You can spend time drinking green tea with your father while you hold conversations.

  3. Bath in an onsen: Japanese hot springs or onsen, are famous for the refreshing and healing nature of the baths. There are thousands of such hot springs in the country, which gives you enough options. If you want to enhance the experience, you can stay at traditional inns known as ryokans.

  4. Explore castles, temples, and shrines: For a cultural experience, visit local landmarks such as temples and castles. You can join any ongoing Japanese matsuri (festival) taking place at a nearby shrine. 

  5. Watch sports: The family can go out to watch dad’s favorite sports live or at a viewing center.

  6. Ride the Shinkansen: Feel free to ride the Japanese bullet train or shinkansen to any of the above venues. They provide a fast and efficient means of transportation while allowing passengers to eat and drink.

Shopping Guide: Where to Find the Perfect Father's Day Gift in Japan

Night view of cityscape at Tokyo Ginza District. Ginza is recognized by many as one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world.

Shopping for Father’s Day gifts in Japan is easier than you think, if you follow our lead. Going to popular shopping districts like Harjuku might leave you disappointed, as the majority of what you’ll find there are youth fashion items. Below are our three shopping district recommendations to help you find quality gifts at affordable prices.

  1. Ginza: Visit Ginza in Chūō, Tokyo, if you’re looking for luxury fashion clothes and accessories. You’ll find many brand-name stores like Rolex and Bulgari. 

  2. Shimokitazawa: Shimokitazawa is a shopping district in Setagaya, Tokyo, that’s famous for its vintage clothing stores and antique shops. Explore the tasteful craftsmanship and find items they’ll love for Father’s Day.

  3. Asakusa: Part of Taitō ward, Asakusa is the perfect place to shop for Japanese souvenirs. You can also find delicious gourmet treats in some of the shops.

Don’t have time to go shopping for gifts? Explore online platforms like Bokksu Boutique to find the best gifts from Japan. 

Corporate Japan Embraces Father's Day: Workplace Celebrations

Corporate gift for father's day celebration

The Father’s Day celebrated in Japan doesn’t end at home but also extends to the corporate world. Companies and workplaces host special events to celebrate the fathers in their organizations and appreciate working dads. They give corporate gifts to staff and clients. Common corporate presents include snacks, sweets, traditional clothing, vouchers, incense, care packages, and stationery. Companies celebrate working dads to boost morale, improve customer loyalty, and create a more conducive working environment.

When it comes to corporate gifting on Father’s Day, the trick is to find the perfect balance between affordability and uniqueness. Check out the Bokksu Boutique corporate gift section for fantastic ideas. We offer gifts of under $50, $75, and $100. We also allow you to make a custom order, which is ideal for any unique business.

The Future of Father's Day in Japan: Trends and Changes

Baccarat Glass, perfect gift for father's day in 2024

Japanese Father’s Day is celebrated differently than in the 1990s. While before it was unheard of for fathers to gift themselves, this has become an emerging trend in the 21st century. Men now spoil themselves with luxury items on Father’s Day. Some see it as an opportunity to buy themselves products they think they deserve, while others only wait to take advantage of the numerous deals and discounts on the day.

Foreign brands are beginning to recognize that Japan’s love for appreciating parents and gift-giving culture could create a profitable market. Foreign brands expanding to Japan will use special Father’s Day events to boost awareness and increase sales.

In the months before Father’s Day, Bokksu Boutique will be ready with exclusive new curated boxes for all dad types. Don’t miss out on our product launch on May 14th. We’ve got something special for you!


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