Japan’s National Foundation Day, Kenkoku Kinen no Hi, falls on February 11th every year. It is the country’s day of national celebration and a popular public holiday. It is also called Empire Day. The holiday recognizes the ascension of Jimmu, the first emperor of Japan, to the throne in 660 BC. The lineage of several generations of emperors can be traced back to times of mythology thousands of years ago. The Japanese believe that the first emperor was crowned by God with the purpose of expanding her realm. It is believed that National Foundation Day is when the history of Japan began. The calendar date of the holiday has been moved around a bit. It was originally celebrated in the new year but during the Meiji period the country switched from the Chinese lunar calendar to the Gregorian calendar and switched the day to February 11th.
There are celebrations all across the country. In Tokyo they have a large parade early in the morning where they wave flags and carry mikoshi (portable shrines) to the nearby Meiji Jingu Shrine. It is extremely common for Shinto Shrines to host National Foundation Day celebrations which are traditionally called Kigensai. In Chiyoda- the Imperial Palace- home to the current emperor there are lots of celebrations as well. Many Japanese people come from all over the country to respect the nation’s leader and pay tribute to the country’s history.
Another spot of celebration is the Kashihara Shrine in Nara Prefecture which was built in 1889. It is said it sits on the spot where Jimmu became emperor in 660 BC and is supposedly the site of his tomb. There are many parades and processions dedicated to celebrating Japan’s national spirit.