National Foundation Day

By TERRY - Last updated: 金曜日, 2月 12, 2010 - Save & Share - One Comment

  Today, namely  Feb.11  is the “National Foundation Day”(/建国記念の日、Kenkoku Kinen no Hi) .  This public holiday was set in 1966, but “Kigen-setsu”(/紀元節、the  day of  the foundation of  the state of  Japan) was set in 1872, an early year in the Meiji Era(1868-1912)  and was abolished in 1948.



This year  2010 is , in our old calendar of  Japan, 2670. According to the Japanese myth and legends, Emperor Jinmu(/神武天皇), the first emperor  of  Japan was said to have been enthroned on the old Kigen-setsu day 2670 years ago in the first  year of this country , having unified the nation. Yet  after WW2, this premodern idea was  denied and abolished. So, this current holiday of ours is not for the commemoration of  the enthronement of the emperor, but for commemorating the beginning of the nation and nurturing the  feeling affinity for the nation, and doesn’t necessary mean people admit that  on this day 2669 years ago Japan started or the first emperor’s reign and government began as a historical fact.

At a lot of Shinto shrines and some temples,  comemorative events have traditionally been held as well as  many secular meetings and events at municipal facilities and others.

For instance, the ” Aragyou”(/荒行、ascetic practices) at Tyoushouji Temple(/長勝寺) in Kamakura is very famous.  Today the Aragyou was practiced as every year at that temple.tyousyoujihondouDSCF0058hokkedou

 The Aragyou is that a lot of  ascetic monks of  the Nichiren-shu  denomination of  Buddhism having gone through ascetic life of eating only porridge and conducting  crucible water ablutions for 100 days in advance, perform  special sacred ablution practice  with   unbelievably cold water on the frigid winter day, praying for world peace and good luck of people.aragyou Today, as has happened in the past,  the Aragyou was implemented by many ascetic participants , spectated by a lot of  visitors including tourists, as this event is very famous and popular not only in Kamakura area but also all over Japan, which TV stations’ coverage was done.  

Needless to say, originally, the Japanese nation’s foundation had had nothing to do  with Buddhism, as it was a religion introduced  from foreign countries, yet as time went by, the “Japanese” Buddhism has become inseparable elements of  our Japanese culture,  plenty of such  interesting events and practices as the Aragyou have been created, conducted, and made much of  through the long history of  Japan “who has just 2670 years old” today ( Buddhism is said to have been first introduced to our country in 538 AD). 

Though this day of  the Feb.11 is not historically the beginning of Japan, having such a holiday to confirm and reminisce about the  background and the nation’s identity is very important to cherish our historical and cultural assets.

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