Japanese state founding day 建国記念の日

Drapeau du Japon

Flag of Japan

Hector de Pereda

Kenkoku Kinen no hi

Every year, February 11 is a public holiday in Japan. It celebrates Kenkoku Kinen no hi, or the day of the founding of the state. It is a very old patriotic day since it commemorates the rise to power of the first emperor.

A legendary day...

The original history of the Japanese imperial family is described in the Nihon Shoki. Published in 720, it is with the Kojiki one of the only official works on the history of Japan. Thus, the Japanese state would have been founded on February 11, 660 BC by Emperor Jinmu, a direct descendant of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. At that time, the lunisolar calendar was used, so the choice of the date of the foundation of the state on the Gregorian calendar (the one we all know) posed some problems. In the end, the date was set for February 11 in 1873, during the Meiji era (1868-1912).

See also: The notion of god in Japanese

Originally called Empire Day, or Kigensetsu in Japanese, February 11 was for years one of the most important days of the year. Symbol of the unification of the people under the reign of the Emperor but also of patriotism, large parades and festivals were organized. People read poems, sang the national anthem, and prostrated themselves before the portrait of the Emperor in the many official ceremonies that took place that day.

Emperor Jinmu, first emperor of Japan


Manifestation pour le jour de fondation de l'État à Shibuya

Protest for the founding day of the state in Shibuya


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