Golden Week is here, so soon again. This year, for those of us with no more than karenda-dori holidays, it is only a very thinly gilded week of only one solitary day in April followed by nothing more than a four-day weekend at the beginning of May — a total of four real holidays and one ‘alternative day off’. I’m happy even with that since I normally have a one-day weekend.
Today I asked my ‘elite’ high school students to ID each of the holidays only to find that they, like many of their adult countrymen, have only a vague notion of what they are suppose to be celebrating.
Golden Week began with Showa Day on Tuesday, the 29th. This is the birthday of Emperor Hirohito of the 63-year Showa Era. When he died in 1989, the official holiday was suppose to have died with him, but people had become so accustomed to having that day off, they continued it under the name Green Day, in honor of the late emperor’s career as a marine biologist. Later, they moved Green Day and changed the 29th to Showa Day, a holiday commemorating the Showa Era, not the man himself. (Actually, most Japanese I ask believe it still marks Hirohito’s birthday.)
Wednesday through Friday were regular working days for most of us — no respect for the international worker on May Day. Tomorrow we’ll celebrate Constitution Day. This year it marks the 67th anniversary of Japan’s controversial, American inspired, post-war constitution, something else none of my HS students were aware of. Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to find that two of my first-year junior high kids not only knew all that, they even knew that the so called ‘peace clause’ is Article Nine. This no-military, no war article is as hotly contested as America’s Second Amendment, which is ironically, the direct opposite of Japan’s pacifist law.
Saturday is the new Green Day, basically created only to serve as a link between Constitution Day on the 3rd and Children’s Day on the 5th. Actually, Children’s Day is traditionally Boys’ Day and is celebrated with displays of samurai dolls in the home a flying carp in the garden. The boys have to share this day with their sisters because Girls’ Day, the Hina doll Festival on March 3rd, is not a national holiday. And, since this year Boys’ Day is on a Sunday, we get Tuesday the 6th as an alternate day off .
For us it will be a nice, long Sondheim-esque weekend in the country. It won’t all be toiling in the soil, bro-in-law Malcolm will bring my sister Lenne from nearby Narita AP as she returns from her ONE FC event in Manila. Maybe we can celebrate another special day, her birthday (May 10th).