All posts tagged: culture

Japan Diaries: Children’s Day (Golden Week)

Today we celebrate and honour the birth of children. And the last official day of Golden Week. Fun Facts: Kodomo no hi, or “Children’s Day,” is celebrated every year on May 5. On this national holiday, children are respected and honoured for their individual strengths and happiness is wished upon them. Children’s Day was originally known as Tango no Sekku  (literally nearing the seventh sign of the Chinese zodiac, but usually translated as Boys Day)and was a celebration for boys. The holiday was officially changed to celebrate the health and growth of both girls and boys in 1948.  Kodomo no hi is particularly well known for the unique traditions and decorations that are associated with the celebration of the holiday. Source, Japan Society Things to do: Fly koinobori banners in the shape of a carp, families usually do this for each of their children. Eat lots of desserts such as Mochi wrapped in oak leaves Spend the day making things, some fun craft ideas, here. In Japanese folklore, the carp is a symbol of determination and vigour, overcoming all obstacles to …

Japan Diaries: Greenery Day (Golden Week)

Happy Greenery Day! Also known as Midori No Hi. Today is centred on nature and showing appreciation for its blessings, but also has a pretty cool history behind it, Originally this day was celebrated on April 29th, the birthday of Emperor Hirohito (or Emperor Showa) who died in 1989. After his death, the holiday was transformed into a more national celebration of nature and in 2007 was given its current date of May 4. Greenery Day was established to honour the Emperor’s love for nature, and Japanese people take this day very seriously. Hirohito was a vastly popular leader and was also the author of approximately 14 books on biology. He was the first “human” emperor of Japan, ending the belief that emperors were divine beings. Source, Planet Tokyo Things to do: Visit a tea room and sample some of the BEST green tea in celebration of all things green. Tokyo tower is one of the most popular places to visit. The tower is lit up with bright colours to represent flows and natural beauty associated …

Japan Diaries: Constitution Day (Golden Week)

Constitution day (also known as Kenpo Kinenbi) is a celebration of the end of war in Japan. Held every year on the 3rd May to commemorate the promulgation in 1947 of Japan’s constitution. It was first celebrated in 1948 to reflect upon democracy and the role of the government. Source, Gaijinpot The  new postwar constitution included: Human rights for everyone / End of War / No Japanese Army. Unlike the Meiji Constitution that it replaced, the present Constitution declares that sovereignty lies with the people; the Emperor is “the symbol of the state and the unity of the people” who has no “powers related to government.” It asserts that people have fundamental human rights and renounces war. It is a very democratic document modelled on the American and British constitutions. Web Japan For more on the history of this day, here. Things to do: Visit The National Diet Building Attend public lectures. Fly colourful streamers, in the shape of a fish which are called Koinobori. Which is also done during Showa and Children’s day. Most people …

Japan Diaries: Showa Day (Golden Week)

Golden Week is a national Japanese holiday which starts today! What is it? A collection of four (days) within a week. Instead of just giving people those four holidays off, many offices end up closing for about 7-10 days, giving their employees a full week of freedom. Even if they’re not given the whole week, many employees will just take time off anyway. The holiday week starts on April 29th and goes through May 5th. Source, Tofugu Dates: April 29th, Showa Day / May 3rd, Constitution Day / May 4th,  Greenery Day / May 5th,  Children’s Day Today marks the celebration of late Emperor Hirohito, the Shōwa Emperor who sat the Chrysanthemum throne from 1926 until 1989. It is intended to be a time to reflect upon the events of Emperor Hirohito’s 63 year rule, the most significant of which are the putting down of the Taisho Democracy, two military coups d’états, World War II, the post-War occupation and dismantling of Imperial rule, and Japan’s rise to economic power. Source, Gaijinpot Things to do: Many …

Japan Diaries: Taiko Drumming

Hey there and welcome to muscle, sorry drumming central! About a week ago we went to Narita-san Shinshō-ji temple to watch the show. Admittedly I didn’t really know what Taiko was beforehand, if you’re in the same boat, here is a little history about it’s origins. Overall really glad I went because we ended up having the BEST time. I thought it would be a quiet affair and just people showcasing their drum skills but it was much MORE than that. I felt quite lucky to have witnessed such talent, coordination and culture. And it was really nice to be a part of something in our local community too. Below some photos from our day. *Thanks to Mr Cheerful for taking some of the cool photos featured. I am not sure what the masks symbolize but this comedy duo were a big hit with the audience! We were so impressed that myself and a friend spoke about possibly taking up Taiko (even though I have zero hand coordination) one can dream though right! If you …

Pretty In Pink, Sakura

Tis the season tourists always hope to witness, Sakura! Until last year I had no idea that the States also had cherry blossoms, I know silly right BUT I think that’s because it’s not really celebrated in the same way the Japanese do. In Japan, cherry blossoms also symbolize the transience of life, which is a major theme in Buddhism. The cherry-blossom tree is known for its short but brilliant blooming season, a natural process that metaphorically describes human life. Source Over here we also have a watch, which is basically a map that pinpoints when and where they’ll bloom. According to the watch today officially marks the beginning of the season for us. I went in search of some earlier today but haven’t seen any that have blossomed SO below a few photos I took last year. It’s a shame the occasion only lasts about a week before they fall and the ground looks like a candy floss machine exploded! We live near lots of trees and its lovely seeing a trail of pink. …

White Day, Japan

White day is a bit like Valentine’s Day’s cousin, as it is celebrated March 14th in Japan. Both are similar in the sense that it is about gift giving and love BUT different in that it’s not about exchanging gifts. Traditionally V-Day is when ladies give the men in their lives: boyfriends, husbands, fathers, teachers, bosses and co-workers gifts, usually in the form of chocolate. Why? Back in the 1950s when the company Morinaga was trying to market Valentine’s Day in Japan, they created an extensive campaign about the chocolate-giving traditions in America and hoped that Japanese people who wanted to “Westernize” would catch on. There was a slight problem, though, because of a transitional error, instead of saying “Giving chocolates on Valentine’s Day is a way for men to express love to women” it was published “Giving chocolates on Valentine’s Day is a way for women to express love to men.” – Tokyo Cheapo. Unlike in the West where we have many theories about how Valentine’s Day came about, like who’s this Cupid guy? Does it …