Thursday, April 29, 2010

Happy Shōwa Day!

Today is Shōwa Day (昭和の日), a Japanese public holiday honoring the birthday of the Shōwa emperor, Hirohito.

After his death in 1989, the emperor's birthday was no longer observed as it had been throughout his 62-year reign, but instead labeled Greenery Day (みどりの日), a celebration of nature meant to hint at the emperor's fondness of plants.

In 2005 legislation was passed to officially declare April 29th "Shōwa Day", while Greenery Day was subsequently moved to May 4th, adding to the Golden Week vacation.

Although the measure was overwhelming popular in parliament, the holiday is seen as controversial by some who feel it merely glorifies the years of Japanese aggression in the 1930s and 40s. Still, others claim that it should be seen as a time to reflect on all things — good, bad and otherwise — which shaped the face of Japan during the long years of 1926 and 1989. 

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