Kenkoku Kinen no Hi (National Foundation Day)

February 12, 2015 Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

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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. 

 

 

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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. 

 

 

 

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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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 More about national holidays in Japan

Kenkoku no Hi

National Foundation Day

Bunka no Hi

Kodomo no Hi

Constitution Day

Seijin no Hi

 

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