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  • 執筆者の写真April Dykes

The Emperor's Birthday

If you’re living in Japan, you know that February 23rd is an annual public holiday.  What annual public holiday, you ask?  The emperor’s birthday.  While Japan has a prime minister and a government with legislative, executive, and judiciary branches, it also has an emperor and an empress consort.  In 2019, the former emperor, Emperor Akihito, abdicated the throne.  Prior to his abdication, the holiday fell on December 23rd.  Once his son, Emperor Naruhito, was crowned, the holiday was changed to February 23rd.  

Fun fact: Japan has the oldest monarchy in the world!

What happens on the emperor’s birthday?  On this holiday, along with January 2nd, the Imperial Palace in Tokyo is open to the public. Many citizens write letters to the Emperor during the week leading up to his birthday and hang the Japanese flag on the day of.

Citizens and tourists alike are able to go to the imperial palace and greet the emperor to give him well wishes.  The Emperor, Empress, and the rest of the imperial family greet well wishes from the veranda of the Chowaden Hall.  The well-wishers wave Japanese flags and cheer, “‘Banzai!” 

Please check out the official website for detailed information about this year’s celebration.





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