Culture Day, known as Bunka no Hi, is an annual national holiday in Japan. Held on November 3rd, the day is primarily used to celebrate culture, the arts, and academia.
History of Culture Day in Japan
November 3rd was initially used as a day to honour the birthday of Emperor Meiji in 1868, when he was the reining Emperor. It wasn’t until after his death in 1912 when this holiday stopped being celebrated, and in 1927, this day was changed to honour the late Meiji Emperor, known as Meiji-setsu.
After the declaration of the post-War constitution in 1947, November 3rd was changed to Culture Day in 1948. Many saw this as a continuation of the previous tradition, but the primary purpose of this day is to celebrate peace and freedom.
Culture Day Celebrations
One of the biggest and most famous celebrations of Culture Day is held at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, for the Order of Culture award ceremony. Each year, professionals and scholars are invited to attend this ceremony, where one individual or group of individuals will be granted entry into the Order of Culture, a Japanese order that honours those who have made impressive contributions to the culture, art, or academic pursuits of Japan and the world. The emperor himself presents this award and it is seen as a great honour.
As a large part of Culture Day involves promoting the arts, many citizens choose to celebrate this day by visiting local art exhibitions. Many also choose to visit science museums, to celebrate the successes and achievements made in science. Culture day is also a day to reflect on the rich history of Japan, and so visiting historical museums is also something often done to celebrate the day. Many museums and galleries offer free entry on Culture Day, making it a popular choice for friends and families to enjoy.
This national holiday is also an important day for many students in schools and universities. University students undergoing academic research often display their works on Culture Day, for fellow students and also the public to see. Many primary and secondary schools display pupils’ artwork and hold performances to showcase their talents. Again, visitors are usually able to come and watch. Discussions and lectures are also held my experts and professionals at some of the country’s biggest universities.
Other famous events on this day include parades and festivals, such as the Feudal Lord’s Parade, which showcases the clothing and traditions of the Edo-era in Japan. Local governments often organise various parades across the country, to display traditions that the area is known for.
How to Join the Celebrations
Culture day is the perfect day to immerse yourself into Japanese culture. If you’re looking to celebrate the day from outside Japan, you could use this day to do something a little Japanese. Perhaps try your hand at Origami, an art form that Japan is extremely well-known for. Or enjoy some delicious Japanese food with some traditional Japanese tableware. Or alternatively, admire some famous Japanese art designs.
If you’re in Japan for Culture Day, Tokyo is a city filled with celebrations. Everything from museums to the Order of Culture award ceremony. Hakone is home to the Feudal Lord’s Parade, a great procession to view. And the rest of the country has lots to see and do on this day!