Happy Culture Day, everyone! Yes, welcome to the fourth of fall’s many three day weekends. I’m taking advantage of this one as much as possible, with a visit to the Karatsu Kunchi (festival).
So what’s Culture Day all about? Well, interestingly enough, today actually celebrates the current Japanese constitution. “Now, hold on a sec …”, those of you with a working knowledge of Japanese holidays might be saying. Isn’t there an actual Constitution Day in May? Why, yes. Yes, there is. The current Japanese constitution – created hand-in-hand with the United States after the end of World War II – was announced to the public on November 3, 1946. Yet it didn’t take effect until May 3, 1947, the day that is officially celebrated as Constitution Day (and makes up part of Japan’s Golden Week). It may seem a bit redundant but I’m certainly not going to begrudge an extra day off!
Culture Day is actually a great day to be in Japan, as a number of events and festivals are planned around the holiday. Many museums offer free admission or open their doors for longer hours. Hakone (just outside Tokyo) showcases Edo-era costumes during their feudal lords parade. Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine offers traditional music and Noh performances. Yabusame (archery on horseback) is performed in Saitama and Ibaraki prefectures, while Nara’s Tanzan Shrine holds a festival of ancient ball-kicking.
Interestingly enough, Culture Day is statistically one of the sunniest days of the year. Between 1965 and 1996, it only rained three times on November 3rd. Not so this year – with a typhoon in the Pacific that cast a bit of a wet pall over the weekend, we can only hope for better weather next year!