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November 3, Culture day 文化の日 (Bunka no hi) Japan
November 3, Culture day 文化の日 (Bunka no hi) Japan
Culture Day 文化の日

Every year on November 3rd Japan celebrates a national holiday called 文化の日 (Bunka no hi), Culture Day. This national holiday originated on November 3rd 1948 to commemorate the announcement of the post-war Japanese constitution on November 3rd 1946. Its current practice however, greatly differs from its original intentions.We begin in the year 1852 on November 3rd, when Japanese Emperor Meiji (明治天皇) was born and given the name of Mutsuhito.

Japan at the time was very isolated, feudal and had not yet entered its industrial era which was at the time ruled by the Tokugawa shogunate. Mutsuhito was enthroned on September 12th 1868 (only 15-years old) and became Emperor Meiji, later to be known as Meiji the Great or Meiji-tatei (明治大帝), literally translated to the enlightened ruler.

Emperor Meiji had radically changed Japan by implementing a new school system, adoption of the cabinet system of government, promulgation of the Meiji Constitution, and led the modernization of Japan. The modernization was greatly influenced by Western powers by delegating resources to fields of science, education, and technology.

Emperor Meiji was very well liked revered by many and was and considered almost like a god by some. However, despite his likeness by the masses, his ideals were against traditional values such as the Samurai ways and as a result there were many complications and civil unrest.

In 1889 the Constitution of the Empire of Japan (Meiji Constitution) was established and became the fundamental law of the state. In 1868, on the same year which Emperor Meiji ascended the throne, November 3rd became a national holiday known as "The Emperor’s Birthday".

On July 30th 1912, Emperor Meiji passed away and the Emperor’s Birthday changed date to its successor’s birthday as is tradition. However a special holiday dedicated in Emperor Meiji’s honor known as Meiji-setsu (明治節) was celebrated from 1927 until culture day was founded in 1948.

Moving forward to February 11th 1937, the Order of Culture (文化勲章) was established which awards exceptional individuals in Art, Literature or Culture. Award recipients also receive an annuity for life and the Badge of the Order which is a gold medal which bares the three crescent-shaped jades as seen below.

The Emperor himself presents the award during a ceremony on Culture Day, November 3, which takes place in the Imperial Palace. Nearly a decade later on November 3rd 1946, the announcement of the Post-War Japanese constitution (戦後憲法 or Sengo Kenpou) was made but was only enacted months later on May 3rd 1947.

Constitutional Memorial day (憲法記念日 or Kenpou Kinenbi) is celebrated not on November 3rd but on May 3rd of every year during Golden Week. Culture day in Japan is also a day to promote academic fields and endeavors through exhibits, culture festivals, and parades. It is a day to learn about the history and culture of Japan, period clothing, calligraphy, and just about anything that makes Japan so unique.

While it may seem that the Meiji-setsu was merely renamed to Culture Day, there are no relations between the two as they only share the same day by coincidence.
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