Kenkoku Kinen no Hi (National Foundation Day)
The 11th of February is Kenkoku Kinen no Hi (the National Foundation Day) in Japan and is a national bank holiday. This day was originally celebrated as the first emperor Jin-mu founded Japan – back then called Yamato (大和) – in 660B.C and named Kigensetsu (紀元節). It was established by Meiji period (明治時代: 1868-1912) in 1873 as a national celebration.
This day Japan seems to be divided in two; many nationalists groups and Shinto shrines throughout Japan celebrate a national holiday with parades and ceremonies, whereas the Japan Teachers Union and other groups assemble a rally for a protest of the holiday.
This is a Hoshuku Parade (奉祝パレード) held in Tokyo. Children, students, grandparents, many people join every year.
At the same time, in other part you will see the protests against the Emperor, PM Abe, nuclear plants or even discrimination. But the main protest is a group of people, mainly historians and teachers who don´t agree with the Kigensetsu (紀元節) since Kigensetsu was a holiday to praise the first Emperor of Japan for the accession to the throne.
The reason why they don´t want to stop celebrating Kenkoku Kinen no Hi is, "Kigensetsu was used to make many young people to mobilise for the war. And after the war it came back as a celebration." They think to protest against the National Foundation Day is the way to protect freedom from the idea and the religions.
Another typical thing you see on the street on this day is this car. I often see some of those just outside of Shibuya station. Usually someone is shouting from the car with a microphone, "Emperor banzai!" and some war songs on the background.
They were so laud and only scared me as a child. Later I got to know that they were people of uyoku (右翼/ the right wings).
Kenkoku Kinen no Hi for me shows an emotional complexity. It seems to be devided into at least four groups; take this as a festival, completely against it, support it extremely and those who don´t belong to any. But recently I hear and read about Japanese people going to a little right side. Politics is not my cup of tea but I´ve just listened to the conference saying that Japanese Buddhism accept the difference and then hearing about the hate speech against whatever does disappoint me.
According to a study, only 20% of Japanese young nation know when the National Foundation Day is. I guess in any how, it´s a good moment to think about our own country.
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