Today is 建国記念の日 (kenkoku kinen-no-hi) or National Foundation Day. It's a national holiday so that means everyone gets a day off which is cool but I don't get paid, so it isn't. Actually, I did have a pair of lessons today in my third p/t job so I did venture out into the bitter cold. First up, a little history on the holiday and then I happened upon a celebratory festival en route home from which I have several photos.
It was first recognized on February 11 in 1872 during the Meiji Period. It was originally established to honor the Imperial family line and the founding of Japan. The story behind National Foundation Day dates back to an event recorded in the 日本書紀 (Nihonshoki=Chronicles of Japan) which states that the first Emperor of Japan, Jinmu, believed to be a direct descendant of the sun goddess, was given the title Emperor on February 11 in 660 BC. (See video below.)
Although this is now considered to be a myth, at the time it was a strongly unifying idea and lead to the belief that Japan as a nation was invincible.
Until WWII this day was celebrated with great pride and ceremony, however, as a consequence of the war, the day was abolished as it was seen to express inappropriate ideals.
In 1966, the Japanese government brought a slightly more muted version of the day back to the public holiday calendar in the form of the National Foundation Day we know today.
On Kenkoku Kinen no Hi, Japanese people consider what it is to be Japanese and express their patriotism to their country.
The Japanese flag, known as the "Hinomaru" or sun flag, represents the divine selection of the Emperor. It remains a strong symbol on this day and many people will carry and wave flags at local festivities.
One way in which it is celebrated is by holding a festival at the main shrines. There were about a dozen priests doing ceremonial stuff and chanting a very eerie chant. Arrows were sold at 1000￥ a pop and then burned in a huge smokey bonfire. Pretty cool and also a little creepy.
As usual there are food booths and I partook in my favourite meat on a stick.
I did manage to win yet another gun, this time a rifle so I am well prepared for the oncoming apocalypse when the zombies take over!