Living in Japan

Jane from GaijinOK - 06-28-2023

7 min read

The Ultimate Guide to Enjoying Japanese Culture and Customs on Culture Day

Experience the rich and vibrant world of Japanese culture like never before with our ultimate guide to enjoying Japanese culture and customs on Culture Day. As one of Japan's most celebrated national holidays, Culture Day offers a unique opportunity to dive deep into the traditions, arts, and heritage of this fascinating country.

The Ultimate Guide to Enjoying Japanese Culture and Customs on Culture Day

There is no doubt that the culture of Japan is a noteworthy one that has may not be aware of. Regarding Bunka no Hi, there is much to discover, from itbeen around for centuries and is full of complex facets that many people s beginning to the festivities that take place in its honor.

Unveiling the Source of Japan's Culture Day

Japan's Culture Day is a national holiday celebrated on November 3rd, commemorating the signing of the Meiji Constitution in 1889. This document laid the groundwork for the modernization of Japan and is a symbol of the country's rich culture. The holiday has been a part of Japanese life since 1948, when it was established to honor the spirit of the Meiji Constitution. It serves to recognize and celebrate the cultural achievements of the nation and to promote a sense of unity among all Japanese people.

November 3rd has been celebrated as Culture Day since 1948, originally stemming from the honoring of the late Emperor Meiji's birthday in 1968. After his death in 1912, the holiday stopped being acknowledged until 15 years later in 1927 when it was re-titled Meiji-Setsu. This was then changed to Culture Day in the 1947 post-War constitution and it has been celebrated ever since.

The Significance of Liberty, Tranquility, and Civilization

Many believe that the celebrations of Culture Day are a modern continuation of Meiji-Setsu, but the main focus of the holiday has shifted to the recognition of freedom, peace, and culture established in the post-War constitution. The holiday is part of Education and Culture Week (教育と文化の週) that takes place during the first week of November and is a great opportunity to experience the three concepts in action through the events held during this time.

An image of Culture Day is depicted, with people of all ages wearing traditional dress and celebrating the national holiday. A variety of colors and clothing styles can be seen, showcasing the joyous festivities of the day.

Activities to Celebrate Bunka no Hi

On Bunka no Hi, a national holiday in Japan, there are plenty of things to do in order to commemorate the day. Some activities to celebrate include visiting a shrine or temple to pay respects and pray for peace, attending a festival or parade, or participating in a traditional sports event. People also like to take part in traditional crafts and activities such as ikebana flower arranging, calligraphy, origami, or kendo. There is no shortage of ways to mark the special day and have a memorable experience.

During the holiday season, a great way to immerse yourself in art and culture is to visit the many museums in Tokyo and across Japan, which are usually open for free. Among the places to explore are the Nezu Museum in Aoyama showcasing a private collection of art pieces; the Meguro Parasitological Museum in Shimomeguro, where you can learn about creepy crawlies; and the Samurai Museum in Shinjuku for a glimpse into the past. Additionally, the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda holds an art festival. And, if you want to see something truly special, you can visit the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force or Japan Navy self-defense ships at bases and general ports, which are decorated with flags in honor of the holiday.

For those who like to take in the atmosphere of the outdoors, the Meiji Shrine Autumn Festival will be held from November 1 to 3 at the Meiji Jingu Shrine in Shibuya. During the three days, there will be a variety of performances such as the Bugaku, a dance specifically for nobility, Noh, a centuries-old dramatic dance, and Kyogen, a comedic-oriented theatre style. This year, the festival is focusing on culture, music, and martial arts with the addition of a Yabusame performance, which is an ancient Japanese martial art of horseback archery.

The Hakone Daimyō Gyōretsu, also referred to as the Procession of the Feudal Lord, is another outdoor event. This activity is a recreation of the regional lords traveling with an entourage of guards and performers while they were forced to remain in Edo for an extended period of time to avoid any revolt. Presently, you can view around 200 men and women costumed as samurai, workers, and princesses parading through Hakone in the procession.

Given the current COVID-19 crisis, it's a good idea to confirm that any planned events are still going ahead as some venues may have limited their hours or changed their opening times.

An image of a festival to celebrate Japanese culture can be seen here! It is a tradition to commemorate the day and is a great way to showcase the culture.

The Holiday's Finale: The Order of Culture Award Ceremony

On Culture Day, the Order of Culture Award Ceremony is the main event. Invitations are extended to intellectuals, academics, and others in the scholarly sphere. Those chosen are then admitted or approved into the Order of Culture, a Japan-founded honor established in 1937 which recognizes those who have furthered Japan's culture through art, literature, science, and technology, amongst other topics.

The Japanese Order of Culture, akin to the Nobel Peace Prize, is granted by the Prime Minister in conjunction with the Cabinet. Candidates are recommended by various departments such as the Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology, and Culture and the award is not solely limited to Japanese nationals. For example, the Apollo 11 astronauts were awarded this honor upon their return from the moon in 1969.

The Emperor bestows a badge of honor upon the chosen candidates. This badge consists of a golden centerpiece shaped like a disc, with three crescent-shaped jades in the center. Above it is an enameled wreath of mandarin orange leaves and fruits, all held together by a purple ribbon. As part of the ceremony, a government-sponsored pension is also presented, which the recipients may enjoy for the rest of their lives.

A festive occasion to celebrate Japanese culture is Culture Day, which falls annually on November 3. On this day, many Japanese people take part in the festivities to commemorate the country's culture and history. It is a time to reflect on the importance of culture and how it has shaped the nation.

Celebrate Culture Day even if you're staying in your home

For Culture Day, you don't need to leave your home to take part. Get some Origami paper from the nearest 100 yen store and give Origami a try. The crane is the most famous type of paper art in Japan and brings luck, a long life, and prosperity - it's an important part of the nation's culture.

On TV, one can observe the events of festivals and ceremonies, but if you are a parent, you can also host your own Order of Culture Award Ceremony. This includes assigning a science project to your child and awarding them with a medal at the completion.

On November 3rd, Culture Day, you can take part in the festivities in diverse ways: you can explore the museums, take pleasure in the music and vibrancy of a festival, or simply stay at home and remember what makes Japan so special.

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