Ever wondered to yourself, ‘how does Japan celebrate Mothers Day?’ Well, this post provides the answer. Whether your mother is Japanese or you simply wish to treat her to something a little different this year, a Japanese style Mothers Day celebration is a wonderful way to show her just how much you care.
How does Japan Celebrate Mothers Day?
It is commonly believed that the first Mothers Day celebration in Japan occurred on 6th March, the birthday of Empress Kojun, who was the mother of Akihito (Japan’s current emperor). The celebration later became fully established alongside the organisation of the Imperial Women’s Union in 1931. During the Second World War, the Japanese were prohibited from celebrating Western customs and Mothers Day was brought to an abrupt end.
Or at least until 1949, when the War was over and Mothers Day saw a revival. The date changed to the second Sunday of May, when it continues to be celebrated to this day. (You might wish to celebrate it on your national Mothering Sunday instead, just in case your mum thinks you’ve forgotten…)
Since its revival, Mothers Day has been celebrated widely across Japan. Nowadays, many festivities are undertaken in celebration and it has become one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants and shopping malls.
How to Treat your Mum to a Japanese Mother’s Day
If you wish to follow Japanese customs to the letter (or to the kanji, you might say), you should rise early and greet your mother with the words Okaasan haha no hi omedetou (happy Mother’s Day!), together with a big bunch of flowers to show your love and appreciation. Red carnations are the most popular choice in Japan, as they symbolise a mothers’ purity, sweetness and endurance (qualities that I’m sure your mother possesses!)
If you would prefer Japanese Mothers Day gifts that she can keep forever, here are some great alternatives:
Kanji (calligraphy art) prints. Saren Nagata has some beautiful pieces expressing sentiments that will bring a tear to your mother’s eye, such as ‘you made a difference’ and ‘sparkle with happiness’. She has recently released a new collection depicting a mother and baby (pictured, left), which are simply perfect for Mothers Day.
Lacquer jewellery boxes. These ornately decorated boxes are made from the finest Japanese lacquer and will make the perfect place for your mother to put her most prized jewellery and trinkets. (What’s so special about lacquerware from Japan?)
Make mum feel extra special this Mother’s Day by rustling her up an authentic Japanese feast.
Although all Japanese food is lip-smackingly delicious, Mother’s Day in Japan is symbolically associated with the egg, so whipping up an egg-based Japanese dish is sure to be a winner! Our top 3 eggy dishes for this Mother’s Day are Oyakodon, Chawanmushi and Tamagoyaki.
Oyakodon: This chicken, egg and rice dish is easy to make and tastes fantastic! To practice this dish at home, find the recipe here.
Chawanmushi: Literally translated, chawanmushi means ‘steamed food in a cup’ (chawan means tea cup/rice bowl and mushi means steamed). This Japanese dish looks and tastes like a savory egg custard and is flavoured with soy sauce, dashi and mirin. For a chawanmushi recipe and a step-by-step video on how to make it, click here.
Tamagoyaki: This Japanese rolled omelette is traditionally eaten at breakfast time. So, if you’re opting to make your mother a Japanese-style breakfast in bed, a tamagoyaki is the dish to make! Click here for a quick and easy tamagoyaki recipe!
If you would like to really impress your mum this year and show her your appreciation, learning these helpful Japanese Mother’s Day phrases should do the trick:
Okaasan daisuki da yo – I love you mum.
Okaasan itsumo arigatou – Mother, thank you for everything.
Itsumo kansha shiteimasu – I’m always grateful.
Discover more traditional Japanese gifts here.