Pyn • Holidays and Observances

National Foundation Day

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Though the emperor of Japan doesn’t have or exercise any governmental powers, he is the head of state and his birthday is celebrated as a national holiday. Because Japan has always had an emperor, celebrations of his birthday have taken place for more than 1,500 years, though the exact date always changes with the birthdate of the reigning emperor.

Today, the Emperor’s Birthday (“Tennō tanjōbi”) is a national public holiday (as of 1948) and takes place on February 23—the birthday of Emperor Naruhito, Japan’s current emperor.

The Emperor’s Birthday is one of the few dates on which visitors can tour the Imperial Palace and greet the emperor during a large ceremony. This takes place in the Chōwaden Reception Hall, in which visitors are given a Japanese flag to wave. There, the emperor and his family will step out onto a balcony, with the crowd below chanting “banzai”—which translates to “to live ten thousand years.” The emperor may say a few words of thanks before leaving the balcony, only to repeat the process several more times as new visitors file in.

How to prepare:

In honor of the Emperor’s Birthday, our offices will be closed on [insert date]. Please turn on your out of office message before leaving for the holiday.

How to observe the Emperor’s Birthday

The Emperor’s Birthday is an important day in Japan. Here are some ideas on how to observe the day—and honor the Emperor:

  • Visit the Imperial Palace
  • Research the history of Emperor Naruhito
  • Visit a library to learn more about Japanese history
  • Wave the Japanese flag

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