Q Why don't department stores and other retail stores close on Sundays and holidays in Japan?

A Japan's calendar was formerly based on the old calendar, a cross between the lunar and solar calendars that was introduced from China. It was not until 1873 that Japan adopted the solar calendar. On April 1, 1876, the government issued an official notice declaring Sunday a holiday and Saturday a half-day for all governmental offices.

Until then, Japanese workers took days off every ten days or on the first and fifteenth of every month according to the lunar calendar. Although an official notice was issued from the government office concerning holidays, the people held fast to their former practice of taking days off and were not quick to adopt to the new system. It was not until the beginning of the Show a period ( 1926-89) that changes began to take place.

Taking Sundays off has now become widely accepted. Because of religious differences, the Sabbath as a day of rest is not religiousiy significant to the Japanese, and this day is invariably spent doing other things such as shopping and enjoying a pastime.

Department stores and amusement parks vie for customers, but this is not to say that the Japanese are worka-holics. An alternate day off is given to people who work on Sundays.