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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 20: Culture Day.
November 3rd is Culture Day. It was designated a national holiday to appreciate peace and freedom and to promote culture within Japan. The holiday has been held since the Meiji period in the late 19th century and was originally called 明治節 (Meijisetsu). Then, it celebrated the birth of Emperor Meiji, and only in 1948 became known as Culture Day.
Now, before we go further, do you know the answer to this question: an important law was promulgated on November 3rd, leading to the decision to call this holiday Culture Day. What was that law?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Across the country, events with a deep connection to culture take place. For example, the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo holds a Fall Festival dedicated to traditional arts such as 舞楽 (bugaku), or traditional Japanese dance—and 流鏑馬 yabusame or horseback archery. In Asakusa in Tokyo and in Shiga Prefecture, parades include people dressed in costumes from each era to demonstrate the flow of history. Kanagawa Prefecture holds a reenactment of the Daimyo's Procession from the Edo era. Events such as these provide the opportunity to once again look at Japanese culture through the ages.
At the Imperial Palace, an Order of Culture Ceremony is held. In the ceremony, people who have made remarkable achievements in the development and improvement of science, technology, culture, and the arts are awarded a medal. In recent years, world-renowned conductor 小沢征爾 (Seiji Ozawa), leading architect 安藤忠雄 (Tadao Ando), and famous fashion designer 三宅一生 (Issey Miyake) have all been honored. Images of the Emperor personally presenting the awards always appear on the news.
The Agency for Cultural Affairs also sponsors art festivals. During this time, those with a proven track record of excellence in the performing arts give performances. In addition, from all of the performances and works of art—including those approved by the Executive Committee—those who have made great contributions to the promotion of art and culture may receive a grand prize, an excellence award, or a newcomer award.
Here’s our fun fact for the day! Did you know that the entire week from November 1st to 7th is designated as Education and Culture Week? During this week, various events such as public lectures and hands-on activities are held, and admission to art galleries and museums is free.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question: which law led to Culture Day?
The answer is the Japanese constitution. The Constitution was promulgated on November 3rd, 1946. Because of its focus on peace and culture, the anniversary of the promulgation of the Constitution was designated Culture Day. Incidentally, the Japanese constitution was actually enacted six months later on May 3rd—a holiday now known as Constitution Day.
Well listeners, how was this lesson?
Did you learn something new?
In your country, do you have a holiday to celebrate your culture?
Please leave us a comment telling us at JapanesePod101.com.
And we’ll see you next time!