The Emperor's Birthday
|The Emperor's Birthday|
Emperor Akihito prepares to greet the flag-waving crowd at the Imperial Palace on his birthday in 2004.
|Official name||Tennō tanjōbi (天皇誕生日)|
|Also called||Tenchōsetsu (天長節)|
|Significance||Marks the birth date of the Emperor of Japan|
|Celebrations||public ceremony at the Imperial Palace, royal greetings|
The Emperor's Birthday (天皇誕生日 Tennō Tanjōbi?) is a national holiday in the Japanese calendar. It is celebrated on December 23. The date is determined by the reigning Emperor's birthdate. Emperor Akihito was born on this date in 1933.
During the reign of Hirohito (Showa period, 1926–1989), the Emperor's birthday was observed on April 29. That date remained a public holiday, posthumously renamed Greenery Day in 1989 and Showa Day in 2007.
Prior to World War II, it was called Tenchōsetsu (天長節?), or Emperor's Birthday, but after the war the new government renamed it Tennō tanjōbi, less formal language with the same meaning, in 1948, when it was established as a holiday by law. Under the law, the Diet of Japan must convene and change the holiday date before the reigning emperor's birthday becomes a public holiday. Thus, there exists a small chance that the former emperor's birthday may come before the change can be made.
On December 23, a public ceremony takes place at the Imperial Palace, where the gates of the palace are opened to public traffic. (The Imperial Palace is usually off limits to the public.) The Emperor, accompanied by Empress Michiko and several other members of the Imperial family, appears on a palace balcony to acknowledge the birthday congratulations of crowds of festive well-wishers waving tiny Japanese flags. Only on this occasion and on January 2 may the general public enter the inner grounds of the Imperial Palace.
When the Emperor ceases his greeting (however brief), the crowd starts waving the flags again and the Imperial Family wave back.
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- The Imperial Household Agency