National Foundation Day is celebrated on February 11 annually. This holiday acts as a reminder for the Japanese to commemorate the establishment of Japan by Emperor Jimmu in 660 B.C. National Foundation Day, also known as Kenkoku Kinen No Hi, is the perfect opportunity to look back on the difficulties bore by the forefathers for the foundation of the country. This holiday allows us to nourish our love for the country and bring out our patriotic spirit.
History of National Foundation Day
National Foundation Day celebrates the ascension of Emperor Jimmu to the throne in 660 B.C., thus laying the foundations of Japan. Jimmu, born in Miyazaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, was a descendent of the sun goddess, the Amaterasu. He was known as one of the bravest emperors of that time. Jimmu initiated war with almost every tribe of that time and won each war. After the continuous defeat of various clans, Jimmu united the nation of Japan. The “Kojiki” contains the tale of the legacy of Emperor Jimmu.
Initially, National Foundation Day was celebrated along with New Year but the dates moved around a little when Japan shifted from a lunar calendar to a Gregorian calendar in 1873 under Meiji rule. Thus, the day moved forward to February 11th.
Before the Second World War, the day was celebrated with a lot of vigor and patriotism. Various official ceremonies, parades, and fireworks were held throughout Japan. However, the holiday was eradicated for various reasons. After a lot of surveys, public demands, amendments, and bills the holiday was once again established but never had the significance it had in the past. Only a few ceremonies are held in the country but there is no sign of the enthusiasm they once had.
National Foundation Day timeline
Emperor Jimmu is born on February 13.
Emperor Jimmu dies on April 9.
The Meiji reign begins.
The Meiji period comes to an end.
National Foundation Day FAQs
How is National Foundation Day Celebrated in Japan?
The national flag is raised, which is followed by a speech by the Prime Minister of Japan. In the era before the Second World War, this day was celebrated with great passion.
What is Japan Culture Day?
Culture Day (文化の日, Bunka no Hi) is a national holiday held annually in Japan on November 3 for the purpose of promoting culture, the arts, and academic endeavor. Festivities typically include art exhibitions, parades, and award ceremonies for distinguished artists and scholars.
What is Japan's Independence Day?
Japan’s Independence Day marks the end of WWII on August 15, 1945.
How to Celebrate National Foundation Day
Take part in the National Foundation Day parade
The National Foundation Day parade is all about patriots waving flags and carrying ‘mikoshi,’ known in English as portable shrines, to the nearby shrine. You can experience the culture of Japan by watching the parade live or on TV.
Visit the Kashihara Shrine
The Kashihara Shrine, built in 1889, sits on the site where Jimmu became Emperor on February 11, 660 B.C. You can visit the shrine to really experience the history and story associated with it. There, you’ll also see parades and processions dedicated to celebrating Japan’s national pride.
Participate in Kigen-sai
Take part in the Kigen-sai, which is a National Foundation Day celebration hosted by shrines across the country, featuring parade participants carrying mikoshi to the grounds as tens of thousands of spectators watch.
5 Facts About The Kashihara Shrine
Emperor Jimmu acceded to the throne here
Japan's first Emperor, Emperor Jimmu, is said to have acceded to the throne here.
It was built in 1889
The shrine was built by Emperor Meiji in 1889.
First four emperors’ mausoleums
The first four emperors of Japan have mausoleums in the Kashihara-Jingu shrine.
Importance of Kashihara-Jingu
Kashihara has been of cultural significance since ancient times and is now important to Japanese archaeology.
Near Jimmu’s tomb
The shrine is near the supposed location of Emperor Jimmu’s tomb.
Why National Foundation Day is Important
It inspires the spirit of patriotism
The day is basically a celebration of the nation’s history. It is the day when Japan, as a nation, was founded.
It acts as a historical and cultural symbolism
Any nation that possesses certain symbols feels pride in owning and celebrating them. The day bears historical and cultural importance and people celebrate it to demonstrate Japan’s national pride.
It fosters love and responsibility for the country
The day presents an opportunity to relive the philosophy behind the formation of Japan and cultivate a sense of love and responsibility for the country.
National Foundation Day dates