Japan National Foundation Day around the world in 2025

  How long until Japan National Foundation Day?
Japan National Foundation Day
  Dates of Japan National Foundation Day around the world
2025 JapanFeb 11
Japan Tue, Feb 11National Holiday
2024 JapanFeb 11, Feb 12
Japan Mon, Feb 12National Holiday (in lieu)
Japan Sun, Feb 11National Holiday
2023 JapanFeb 11
Japan Sat, Feb 11National Holiday
2022 JapanFeb 11
Japan Fri, Feb 11National Holiday
2021 JapanFeb 11
Japan Thu, Feb 11National Holiday

Japan's National Day marks the traditional date on which according to legend Emperor Jimmu founded Japan in 660 BC

When is National Foundation Day?

February 11th is National Foundation Day (Kenkokukinen-no-Hi), a national holiday for Japanese people to remind themselves of the nation's founding and foster their love for the nation.

According to the Prime Minister of Japan, National Foundation Day is a public holiday for the purpose of “recalling the founding of the nation and cultivating a mindset of the love of the nation.” It is a national holiday on which each Japanese person thinks about the efforts made by our forebears from ages past in bringing the country to where it is today, and renews his or her hopes for the further development of the nation.

History of National Foundation Day

It marks the traditional date on which according to legend Emperor Jimmu founded Japan in 660 BC.

Japan switched from the traditional Japanese calendar - a lunar calendar based on the waxing and waning of the moon - to the Gregorian calendar starting in January 1873.

It was at this time that the day of the enthronement of Emperor Jinmu, the first Japanese emperor, was made a national holiday and named Empire Day (Kigen-setsu). February 11th 660 BC was determined as the day of enthronement by calculating the date in the solar calendar corresponding to the date recorded in the Chronicles of Japan, Japan's first history compiled on imperial orders.

Emperor Jimmu is considered a direct descendant of the ultimate Japanese sun goddess, Amaterasu. Ancient literature says that Jimmu was born in Miyazaki prefecture, Kyushu. He defeating every clan he encountered and thus united Japan. The Japanese Monarchy is considered the world’s oldest and longest-serving. There are many monuments and historic sites of the first emperor all over Japan.

However, many historians now believe that Emperor Jinmu's enthronement, as described in the Chronicles, was probably not a historical fact but merely folklore. The celebration of the legendary enthronement was probably done – at least in part – as a way to legitimize and enforce its new rule by making the Meiji Emperor a divine descendant of Jimmu.

Before the second world war, Empire Day was considered one of Japan’s four major holidays. It was celebrated with a great passion, pomp and circumstance. Large parades and festivals were held at the Imperial Palace and major Shinto shrines throughout Japan. Governmental offices and schools across Japan held many celebrations on Empire Day, but after the war, the holiday was abolished for several reasons.

However, there were so many complaints about the removal of the holiday that as soon as the allied occupation ended in 1952, legislators began lobbying to reinstate Empire Day. After nine bills, countless amendments and even a public survey, the day was reinstated as a national holiday, renamed as National Foundation Day in 1966 and first observed in 1967.

During public holidays, tourist attractions and public transport are generally more crowded. Hotels may charge a holiday pricing premium of up to 50% on normal rates.

Usually, a National Day of a country means plenty of pomp and patriotism. National Foundation Day does things a little different. Firstly, many think the date is so mythical that it makes it hard to relate to.  Secondly many think the original holiday was instigated to promote the Emperor and as such, led directly to the mindset that would result in Japan's disastrous role in the second world war.

The result is that there are no official celebrations of the day. In 2015, a spokesperson of the National Cabinet Office’s holiday section said: "This national holiday was designated by a government ordinance to reflect on the establishment of the nation and nourish a love for the country.

"Definitions of the National Holidays Law suggest that each citizen may observe national holidays in accordance with each position and condition," the spokesperson continued. "So, although private organizations run events to celebrate the holiday or express their objection to it, the government has never hosted any event relating to the holiday."

Did you know?

Three facts about Japan National Foundation Day

In Japanese, the name “Japan” is Nihon or Nippon, which means “Land of the Rising Sun.” It was once believed that Japan was the first country to see the sun rise in the East in the morning.

Black cats are seen as a good luck charm in Japan.

KFC is so popular in Japan at Christmas, people have to queue for up to two hours to get a seat.

More facts about Japan National Foundation Day

Translate this page