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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class: Holidays in Japan Series on 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 16: Respect for the Aged Day.
Respect for the Aged Day, or 敬老の日 (Keirō no Hi), is when people convey feelings of gratitude and wishes for good health to the elderly. It can be from grandchildren to their grandparents, children to their parents, or anyone to the elderly in their neighborhood. This national holiday falls on the third Monday of September each year. It celebrates the longevity of the elderly who have devoted themselves to society for many years and demonstrates respect for them. While there are several theories about its origin, it is thought to have spread across the country after a Respect for the Aged party was held in a rural village in Hyōgo Prefecture in 1947.
Now, before we go any further, do you know the answer to this question: presently, Respect for the Aged Day is celebrated on the third Monday of September, but prior to 2003, it was held on a different day. Do you know when it was held?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
On this day, and the days surrounding it, Respect for the Aged Day parties are held for the elderly living in the local area. Elderly residents gather together in public facilities, such as community centers, to enjoy choir performances, dance performances, and other entertainment. Souvenirs such as red rice, Japanese sweets, and magnifying glasses are sometimes presented. Grandparents are invited to visit the classes of their grandchildren's kindergarten or nursery school. Elementary school students also write letters of thanks to their grandparents. This day is a good opportunity for different generations to strengthen their bonds.
Each year before Respect for the Aged Day, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare calculates the number of people over 100 years of age. Local municipalities sometimes give gifts or souvenirs to elderly people celebrating milestones that year, such as 傘寿 (Sanju), meaning "turning 80," or 卒寿 (Sotsuju), meaning "turning 90." Those turning 100 or more receive a visit from the city or town mayor, and are congratulated and presented with a congratulatory gift.
Naturally, households with elderly family members convey their gratitude on Respect for the Aged Day, but families who live apart participate as well. Often, this involves not only saying thank you, but also sending gifts. Families will send meals, flowers, and handmade crafts by the grandchildren; photos of the grandchildren are also high on the list of popular gifts for this day.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question: on what date was Respect for the Aged Day held up to 2002?
The correct answer is September 15th. Several years ago, the government instituted a new system, known as the Happy Monday System, that moved some national holidays from their traditional date to a Monday in order to create a three-day weekend. With the five-day work week becoming common for civil servants and medium-sized companies, this system was initiated to increase workers' leisure time. Several holidays were affected. For example, in 1998, Coming of Age Day and Sports Day were moved to Monday, and in 2001 Marine Day and Respect for the Aged Day were also moved.
When Respect for the Aged Day moved to the third Monday in September, the Act for the Welfare of the Aged was also amended in 2001 to appease the opposition of elderly associations. September 15th was established as Elderly Day, with the following seven days designated as Elderly Week.
Well listeners, how was this lesson?
Did you learn something new?
In your country, do you have a day that celebrates elderly people's health and thanks them?
Please leave us a comment telling us at JapanesePod101.com.
And we’ll see you next time!