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The Emperor’s Birthday

Ewa Nowogorski

While the younger generations are busy celebrating western holidays such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and even Easter in recent years, the older generations are more focused on events directly concerning their country and its deep history. The Emperor’s birthday is a national holiday in Japan that celebrates the birthday of the current Japanese Emperor. Right now, that person is Emperor Naruhito, who was born on February 23rd, making that day a nice day-off for the entire nation. The previous Emperor Emeritus Akihito’s birthday was on December 23rd, just a day before Christmas Eve.

On the Emperor’s birthday, there is a huge ceremony that takes place in the Imperial palace, which is located in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo. It is on this day and only one other day in the year when the gates of the place are opened, allowing the general public to enter the palace grounds. The Emperor is accompanied by the empress and several other members of the royal family, and they wave and give their greetings from a palace balcony to acknowledge the masses wishing their birthday congratulations and wishes.

Hoards of people will flock to the palace and wave small Japanese flags to celebrate. But despite all this effort, it is important to remember that the event is purely ceremonial, and it holds no political significance. The emperor and his family hold no official power; it was renounced by his family after the end of World War II, and today the Emperor is just a figurehead.

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