The Emperor’s Birthday is celebrated in Japan on February 23, and only changes when a new emperor is crowned. We are supercharged to celebrate the historic day with all Japanese flair and style. Japan has the oldest monarchy in the world. There have been 126 emperors since the inception of Japan, all traceable to the first emperor and the founder of what is today Japan.
History of The Emperor's Birthday
Birthdays are the best days! It is a special time of the year to celebrate growth, development, and all the things we all are thankful for in our journey so far. Birthdays remind us of how far we have come as a person or institution, the challenges and hurdles we have crossed to get where we are, and the idea of a new beginning in which new, greater achievements can happen.
The history of Japanese emperors and their rule in the country is very rich and robust, and the imperial family is arguably the longest-lasting royal family in the world, lasting more than 1,500 years. According to tradition, Emperor Jimmu was Japan’s first emperor, and founded the imperial dynasty. Japanese mythology tells us that he was a direct descendant of both Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, and Susanoo, the Storm God.
Over the long course of Japanese history, a lot of changes have occurred as a result of power struggles that relegated the emperors to purely symbolic and ceremonial positions, but despite that, emperors have always come from the same line as Emperor Jimmu.
Before the end of the Second World War, the Emperor’s Birthday was always called ‘Tenchosetsu,’ meaning; ‘The sky and the earth, the universe is eternal.’ This was a conveyance of hope that the emperor would reign eternally. But after the Second World War, when the imperial family relinquished all political power, the name changed to ‘Tenno Tanjobi,’ a more casual term.
The Emperor’s Birthday holiday date in Japan changes with the accession of a new emperor and is held on the day that the reigning emperor was born. The current emperor of Japan, Naruhito, was born on February 23, 1960, making this the date for the holiday.
The Emperor's Birthday timeline
Emperor Jimmu founds the Japanese imperial dynasty and becomes the first emperor.
The name, which was derived from Chinese to symbolize hope for the eternity of the emperor, is used from the birthday of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang.
From the sixth year of Emperor Konin’s reign, the emperor’s birthday ceremony is celebrated on October 13 by the vassals who bring him gifts.
The Emperor’s birthday is instituted as a national holiday by the government, to be celebrated by all.
The Emperor's Birthday FAQs
How does Japan celebrate the Emperor’s birthday?
It is usually held with a ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, where members of the public are allowed to enter the palace to extend their greetings. They carry the flag of Japan and wave them at the emperor and imperial family, who stand on the balcony and wave back.
How are the Japanese emperors chosen?
Emperors are chosen from the male line, and several times, the eldest child was not allowed to become emperor.
Can the emperor of japan command the military?
No. The prime minister is the Commander-in-Chief of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.
How To Observe The Emperor’s Birthday
Stream the event
The Emperor’s Birthday ceremony is usually held at the Tokyo Imperial Palace where the emperor and members of the royal family appear on the balcony to acknowledge well-wishers. Go online and follow the event, and also listen to the speech given by the emperor to mark this great occasion.
Get your Japanese flag
The people of Japan during this holiday take to the streets in their numbers, waving the Japanese flag. Get yours too and take a video of yourself to post on social media as a participant in the celebration.
Listen to the Holiday song
Go download and listen to the official holiday song, titled the ‘Emperor’s Birthday.’ The lyrics were written by Mayori Kurokawa and composed by Yoshida Oku and recognized in 1893
5 Fun Facts About Japanese Emperors
No political power
The Japanese Emperor today is still Head of State, but performs mostly ceremonial and symbolic functions.
Longest lasting Royal Family
The Japanese imperial family is more than 1,500 years old, and they are said to be descendants of the first emperor, Jimmu.
Children of the gods
Because Japanese myths speak of the first emperor as the son of Amaterasu the sun goddess, his descendants and subsequent emperors were always called ‘Tenno,’ meaning heavenly sovereign.
The Chrysanthemum Throne
Because chrysanthemum flowers were particularly beloved by the imperial family, they were adopted to symbolize the throne and the position of the Emperor in Japanese history.
The Scientist Emperor
Emperor Hirohito, who reigned from 1926 to 1989, was a dedicated marine biologist.
Why The Emperor’s Birthday is Important
A celebration of heritage
This day reminds us all of the long years of history of the Japanese Imperial family. For 1,500 years, the emperors have ruled, and currently, only Japan can boast of an emperor in the whole world, making it such a special occasion.
A unifying event
This holiday brings Japanese people together as they move out to celebrate the emperor. It strengthens the bond between the people and makes them feel a closer relationship with the government.
A show of respect
The emperors in history have to a large extent contributed to the successes of Japan as a country. This holiday stands as an opportunity to also commemorate the activities of past emperors while celebrating the current one.
The Emperor's Birthday dates