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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Japan Series at JapanesePod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Japanese holidays and observances. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 11- Showa Day
April 29th of each year is 昭和の日 (Shōwa no hi) or “Showa Day." The day marks the birth of Emperor Showa, also known as Emperor Hirohito. The national holiday was created with the goal of compelling people to think about the country's future, while reflecting upon the everyday hardships and restoration achieved during the Showa Period, from 1926 to 1989. Originally, during the Showa Period, April 29th was a national holiday called the Emperor's Birthday, but after changing over to the Heisei Era in 1989, this day was renamed Greenery Day; only later did it come to be known as Showa Day.
Now, before we go any further, do you know the answer to this question- what became of Greenery Day?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Emperor Showa passed away on January 7th, 1989. The Crown Prince then became the new emperor; therefore, the birthday of Emperor Heisei on December 23rd became the new Emperor's Birthday. Since April 29th was no longer the Emperor's birthday, the holiday needed renaming. An appropriate name was sought for Emperor Hirohito, an emperor who deeply loved nature, and Greenery Day was selected. Later, in order to ensure that the Emperor Hirohito and the Showa Period were not forgotten, the holiday was renamed to its current incarnation—Showa Day.
Emperor Showa was a biologist and had a deep knowledge of nature. After defeat in the Second World War, he tried to regain the greenery of a homeland which had been burned, and planted trees every year in various parts of the country from 1950 onwards. Emperor Heisei has also planted trees and continued the reforestation of national land.
In Tokyo, a gathering to celebrate Showa Day is held at 明治神宮会館 (Meiji Jingu Kaikan), attached to the 明治神宮 (Meiji Jingu shrine). At the event, lectures are held on the turbulent times of the Showa Period, as well as the future of the country. The talks include memories of the war, a subject which cannot be avoided when discussing the Showa Period. It's an opportunity to convey these memories to future generations to ensure their remembrance.
Here’s our fun fact for the day! Did you know that there is another national holiday similar to Showa Day that was an Emperor's Birthday? Culture Day on November 3rd originally celebrated the birthday of Emperor Meiji.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question- what became of Greenery Day?
The correct answer is that it moved to May 4th. Greenery Day was held on April 29th from 1989 until 2006. Upon the revision of the law in 2007, Greenery Day moved to May 4th and is a national holiday for communing with nature, being thankful for its benefits, and nurturing a rich spirit.
Well listeners, how was this lesson?
Did you learn something new?
In your country, do some national holidays change their names or their dates?
Please leave us a comment telling us at JapanesePod101.com.
And we’ll see you next time!