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Kenkoku Kinen no Hi or National Foundation Day

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/22 Traditional Culture ,

The National Foundation Day (建国記念の日, Kenkoku Kinen no Hi) is a public holiday in Japan and is celebrated every year on 11th February. The day is celebrated to commemorate the formation of the nation and also for the establishment of the imperial line by the first Japanese ruler, Jimmu.

Holiday History

The day originally coincided with the New Year’s Day according to the Chinese calendar and it is believed that Emperor Jimmu took the throne on this day. In 1872, when the holiday was originally proclaimed, it was January 29 of the Gregorian calendar, which corresponded to Lunar New Year of 1873. Contrary to the government’s expectation, this led people to see the day as just Lunar New Year, instead of National Foundation Day. In response, the government moved the holiday to February 11 of the Gregorian calendar in 1873. The government stated that it corresponded to Emperor Jimmu’s regnal day but did not publish the exact method of computation. It was then called the Empire Day (紀元節, Kigensetsu).

The national holiday was supported by those who believed that focusing national attention on the emperor would serve a unifying purpose. Publicly linking his rule with the mythical first emperor, Jimmu, and thus Amaterasu, the Meiji Emperor declared himself the one, true ruler of Japan. Given its reliance on Shintoism and its reinforcement of the Japanese nobility, Kigensetsu was abolished following World War II. It was in 1873 that the Japanese Government decided to shift the day to 11th February, in order to make people realize the importance of the Foundation Day. The government did not disclose the exact calculations used but propagated this day as the day when Jimmu took to the throne.

Modern Celebration

The National Flag is raised which is followed by a speech by the Prime Minister of Japan. In the era before the Second World War, this day was celebrated with a great passion. After the abolishment and the re-establishment of this day, there is no grandeur associated with the day. The schools and offices in Japan remain closed on this day and people often restrict themselves indoors.

No grand parades or ceremonies are organized on the National Foundation Day of Japan. Although people can be seen waving the Japanese flags. The day is largely seen as one with only political significance. It was on this day in 1946 that the model Constitution was approved by General McArthur.

References:

1. Quick Facts : National Foundation Day (Japan). Calendar-Labs

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