Shunbun no hi is the Japanese holiday which celebrates the spring equinox in Japan. This holiday falls on the 20th March this year and is part of a seven day period known as Haru no Higan (Spring Higan). On Shunbun no hi (March 21st 2016), the hours of light equal those of the of darkness and it is a time to mark the changing of the seasons. Each September, another higan is celebrated, this time marking the autumn equinox.
While the origin of Haru no Higan is unknown, it has been celebrated since the 8th century when the Emperor of Japan mandated it’s observation.
So how do the Japanese spend Shunbun no hi? Many people head back to their hometowns and spend a portion of the day tending to the graves of their ancestors according to ancient Buddhist tradition. In Buddhism, the term higan means “other shore” and refers to the belief that there is a river between this life an the next.