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Culture Day or Bunka no Hi

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/18 Traditional Culture , , , ,

As what we know from our previous posts about holidays in Japan, almost every month in Japan has a national holiday. November is not an exception of that. There are two holidays for the month of November and those are the Culture Day or 文化の日 (Bunka no Hi) on November 3 and Labor Thanksgiving Day or 勤労感謝の日 (Kinrou kansha no Hi) on November 23. Today we will talk about the first holiday, Culture Day.

Culture Day is an annual national holiday in Japan held on November 3. Its purpose is to promote arts, culture, and academic accomplishments. It is typically celebrated through exhibitions of different artistic works and demonstrations of traditional Japanese culture.

Origin of Culture Day

During the reign of Emperor Meiji (February 1867 – July 1912), November 3 was celebrated as 天長節 (Tenchō-setsu) or the Emperor’s birthday. With his death in 1912, the day ceased to be a holiday. In 1927, it became a holiday again to commemorate Emperor Meiji’s birthday. It was renamed to 明治節 (Meiji-setsu) but it was discontinued in 1948 with the announcement of the present and unrelated holiday, Culture Day. The Emperor’s Birthday, now called as 天皇誕生日 (Tennō Tanjōbi) is still a holiday in Japan and is determined by the birth date of the reigning emperor. With respect to the current emperor, Emperor Akihito’s birthday, it is celebrated on December 23.

The Current Holiday

In November 3, 1946, the present Constitution of Japan was officially announced to the public though it was not put into force until May 3, 1947. That is why the holiday for commemorating the constitution, Constitution Memorial Day, is held on May 3. Two years later the public announcement, November 3 was made the Culture Day, with the purpose of promotion of the Constitution’s ideals, the love of peace and freedom, through cultural activities. (Web-Japan)

According to Japan’s Meteorological Agency, Cultural Day, just like the Taiiku no Hi, is one of the days that always seem to have clear skies even if it’s cloudy or rainy the day before or after. Because of that, schools and other institutions held 文化祭 (bunkasai) or Culture Festival on that day. In schools, they open the campus to public and students display their club activities, make classrooms into restaurants and cafés, and perform shows and concerts.

The video above features the Tokyo Gakkan Urayasu Senior High School’s 2012 Culture Festival.

Awarding of The Order of Culture

Another event that is held on this day is the awarding of Order of Culture (文化勲章 Bunka-kunshō). It is one of the highest decorations bestowed by the Imperial Family. The award is given to men and women that has notable contributions to Japan’s literature, culture, and art. The Emperor himself presents the award to the recipients. The award is not only exclusive to Japanese people. In 2008, scholar Donald Keene was the first foreign national to receive the award for his works on Japanese literature and art. (Note: Donald Keene became a Japanese citizen in 2012.)

What are your thoughts about this holiday? Share it with us in the comments!

References:

  1. Culture Day. Web-Japan.
  2. Culture Day. Amazing Japan.
  3. Culture Day. Wikipedia.
  4. Featured image by Naoki Tomeno on Flickr.
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