Culture Day


Another annual event celebrated in Japan is the Japanese Cultural Festival, also known as Bunka no Hi. This event always occurs on the 3rd day of November. This holiday is to commemorate that on this day in 1946, the constitution of Japan was officially announced. To commemorate this event, the date was declared as a national holiday two years later, in 1948. The purpose of the holiday is to promote the growth of the ideals of the Constitution, and the love of peace and freedom through cultural activities. This date, November 3rd, has also been used as a holiday since the Meiji Period, where it was called Meijisetsu. During that time, the holiday was to celebrate the birth of the Meiji emperor. Some see Culture Day as a continuation of the tradition of the Meijisetsu holiday.

Across the country, events with a deep connection to culture take place, such as cultural art exhibits and costume parades.

The Bunka no Hi is widely participated in by schools in Japan, from Nursery schools to Universities. In this festival, the artistic side and various academic ventures of the students are displayed. Primary and Secondary schools hold cultural festivals which students are required to attend. This activity is one of their requirements for graduation. In universities, attendance is not compulsory, which makes this an extracurricular activity for them. Usually, these festivals showcase what the students have learned. Visitors to these festivals are there not only to inspect the students’ achievements, but as recreation. Alumni of different schools also mark this holiday as a time to visit their schools. Classrooms and gymnasiums are decorated like restaurants and bistros, and the guests are entertained by presentations prepared by the students. This holiday promotes social interaction among the groups and fosters community ties.

On this day the presentation ceremony of the Order of Culture Awards is held at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The award is given by the imperial family and the emperor himself to recognize the outstanding contributions of people in the field of arts, culture, and science. The bestowal of this award is not restricted to only Japanese citizens; there have also been foreign recipients. For example, the award was given to the Apollo 11 astronauts upon their return from the moon. Last year, some of the awardees were Taeko Kono, considered one of the most important writers of Japanese contemporary literature; Takashi Negishi, economist; and Hiroshi Amano, Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for the year 2014.

The rest of the country celebrates with parades celebrating traditional Japanese customs, with the participants dressed in costumes from each era to demonstrate the flow of history. Events like these provide opportunities for the people of today’s generation to examine the culture that has been passed down through the ages. During this time, those with a proven track record of excellence in the performing arts give performances.

The importance of Culture Day has expanded, so that now the period from November 1 to November 7 has been designated as Culture Week, focusing on Culture Day. In schools some of the outdoor activities include the Sumoo (Sumo); Bon Odori (Bon dance), a traditional form of Buddhist ancestor worship; Rajio Taisoo (Radio exercise), marking the coronation of the emperor of Japan; Janken Championship (Rock-Paper-Scissors); and the Chorus, wherein large groups sing together in an outdoor setting.