New Holiday


By chance I was asking someone about Green Day today and they let me know that it would be on a different day this year. Green Day was formerly on April 29th, but this year will occur on May 4th.

Traditional belief in Japan is that the Emperor is a god. At the end of WWII the Showa Emperor (昭和天皇) ‘shouwa tennou‘ was forced to publicly state that he was not God, but was allowed to stay in power because he used his power to end the war and was an important figure in a peaceful transition to the modern government. Out of respect for the Emperor we celebrate his birthday. The Showa Emperor was born on April 29th.

In 1989 after the death of the Emperor, his son, the Heisei Emperor (平成天皇) ‘heisei tennou‘ came to power. Since then the Emperor’s Birthday (天皇誕生日) ‘tennou tanjoubi‘ has been celebrated on December 23rd. Because of the peoples’ great love for the Showa Emperor his birthday was maintained as a holiday which we commonly translate as Green Day (緑の日) ‘midori no hi‘, presumably because of his love for greenery (not the rock band).

Every year Constitution Day (憲法記念日) ‘kempou kinenbi‘ is celebrated on May 3rd and Children’s Day (こどもの日) ‘kodomo no hi‘on May 5th. This year a decision was made to move Green Day to May 4th, probably because everyone was taking that day off anyhow. As a result a new holiday was created on April 29th, formerly Green Day and formerly Emperor’s Birthday.

The new holiday is called Showa Day (昭和の日) ‘shouwa no hi‘ after the Showa Emperor. Normally I would be happy to have another holiday, but since I am starting my own school it will just be one more day that people won’t sign up for classes. Soon I expect that we will see some complaints (mostly in American or Chinese press) about the new holiday. Many right wing elements draw a tight connection to the former Emperor because, although he is remembered for ending the war and transitioning government peacefully, he was the Emperor who commenced the Great Asian War. I don’t know what elements influenced the holiday name shift, but many journalists have published their fears that Japan will return to the military path.


4 Responses to “New Holiday”

  1. kevenker Says:

    Japan may return to the military path, but if they keep creating holidays at the pace they seem to be doing, there won’t be any days where they can actually fight.

  2. びっくり Says:

    Honestly there are so many heiwa-boke in Japan that the government would be hard-pressed to change the wording of the constitution; let alone, actually start a military conflict. Heiwa-boke is a combination of the words ‘peace’ and ‘senility’ assigned to the people who have had peace drummed into them for decades. I think if North Korea invaded Japan only about half of the population would support fighting a war.

    Perhaps if every country loaded up on holidays we would have fewer wars. 🙂

  3. matthias Says:

    I just want to mention, that 4th of April has been a public holiday in Japan since 1999! Until this year it was called: Kokumin no kyūjitsu (国民の休日).

  4. びっくり Says:

    Matthias – thanks for the comment. I was surprised to hear about Citizen’s Day. Your reference link came up 401 so I had to remove it.

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