Japan Expo Bay Area - August 22-24, 2014 San Mateo Event Center, California

National Foundation Day

February 11 is National Foundation Day (Kenkoku Kinen no hi) in Japan. On this day it is a celebration to mark the foundation of Japan and their love for the nation. It is a national holiday

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Here is a little background of the history of this holiday:

This day marks the day that the first Emperor, Emperor Jimmu, was ascended to the throne and founded Japan in 660BC. Established in 1872, National Foundation Day was called Empire Day (Kigensetsu) and observed on January 29th, 1872. According to legend Emperor Jimmu assumed the throne on the first day of the first month and in the Lunar calendar that was January 29. Before World War II this holiday was considered one of the four major holidays in Japan, it had big parades, fireworks, and festivals to focus the national attention on the emperor.

The Lunar calendar was officially switched to the Gregorian calendar in 1873 and that caused January 29th to become New Year’s Day, and so the Meiji Government moved Empire Day to February 11th.

After the war, the holiday was abolished and after many complaints, in 1966 it was reinstated as a national holiday called National Foundation Day.

It is celebrated by the raising the National Japanese Flag and reflection of the meaning of citizenship in Japan. 


There is a bit of controversy with this holiday because historians believe that Emperor Jimmu’s enthronement was not historical.

A few Japanese people don’t even know when National Foundation Day is where only “19.3% gave Feb11-the correct reply.” In an awareness survey conducted by the Junior Chamber of Commerce International Japan this was the result.

“Broken down by age segment, only 14.9% of Japanese between the ages of 25 to 39 gave the correct answer, compared with 16.2% of those age 18 to 24 who replied correctly. The highest percentage of correct responses, with 44.3%, came from the age 60 and over group.”

This is quite a paradox as they did surveys with people of other nationalities residing in Japan were asked if they knew their own country’s founding day and of the people surveyed that gave the correct response were Citizens of China with a 100% response, Canadians gave a 97.7%, and Americans gave it 91.3% correct.

“Japanese say they feel pride in their country, it’s something of a paradox that they don’t know about its founding,” states Hirofumi Munehisa (Japan Jaycee Assembly on National History).

Data source: Japan Today 

Do you know your country's founding day? Let us know in the comments below.

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