Dating as far back to the days of the Meiji Emperor (明治天皇), Nov. 3 has been always been a day worth celebrating. Originally meant to commemorate the emperor’s (天皇) birthday, after the emperor’s passing and the holiday was renamed meiji setsu (明治説).
Aside from the date’s connection to the late emperor, this day also marks the anniversary of the 1946 postwar Japanese constitution that emphasized the need for peace, culture and the arts.
Two years after the postwar constitution was announced, Nov. 3 was declared as Culture Day (文化の日). Despite the long history as significant days in Japan, 明治説 and 文化の日 are by no means related.
How to celebrate Culture Day in Japan
To commemorate the holiday, most art museums in Japan now hold special exhibitions across the country. From award ceremonies to parades, Culture Day is truly a day meant for the arts.
One of the more popular events is the feudal lord’s parade (大名行列) in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture. At this event, you’ll be able to see real life reenactments of what Japan was like during the Edo period. So if you want to learn more about Japanese culture—and get outside of the city for a little bit—this may be the perfect day trip idea.
For things to do around Tokyo, consider heading over to Meiji Shrine, sandwiched right between Harajuku and Shibuya. If your timing is right, you might be able to take in a few rounds of traditional Japanese horseback archery (流鏑馬) in action.
Arguably the biggest event held on Culture Day is the Order of Culture Award Ceremony held at the Imperial Palace. Every year, the award recognizes citizens who have made great contributions to the realm of science, art and technology. It’s a big deal, and as such, the reigning emperor greets recipients himself to present the award.
Whether you spend Culture Day roaming museums or watching parades, it’s a great opportunity to learn more about what makes Japan the country we know today.
|Culture Day||文化の日||bunka no hi|
|Meiji Emperor||明治天皇||meiji tenno|
|Meiji Setsu||明治説||meiji setsu|
|Feudal Lords Parade||大名行列||daimyo gyoretsu|
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