February 11th is one of Japan's many public holidays, "National Foundation Day". In this article, we're going to go into detail about this public holiday's history and origins.
What is "National Foundation Day"?
February 11th was originally the day on which Japan's Emporer took the throne, with the original name being "Empire Day" (Kigensetsu in Japanese). However, after the second world war in 1948, the General Headquarters (GHQ) was worried that through "recognizing empire day, won't the people who believe in the Emporer more start to gain more unity?" and through that worry abolished the day. In 1966, it was registered as a day to "Celebrate and love the country" being renamed to "National Foundation Day".
The Founding is Part of a Myth?
In the Chronicles of Japan, this was the day when the first Emporer of Japan was enthroned. To this day, National Foundation Day is the time in which any new Emporers of Japan are enthroned. However, it is said that there is no evidence that Emperor Jimmu even existed and is recognized as a myth. Due to Emperor Jimmu being recognized as a myth, some people have the opinion that this national holiday is not one that was officially created.
Why "National Foundation Day"?
Overseas, public holidays that commemorate independence or revolution are known as an anniversary. For example, America's Independence Day, when they gained independence from Britain in 1776.
However, Japan's National Foundation Day is neither a revolution nor a day when they gained independence. It's also quite difficult to fully know when the founding of a nation was. It is for this, that the day is called National Foundation Day. In Japanese, through not having the character "の" in the name, the nuance of the name changes.
To put it simply, National Foundation Day is not the day that celebrates when Japan was founded, but a day to celebrate Japan being founded as a whole.