Japanese National Foundation Day and the History Behind It

  • Every country has at least one National Holiday commemorating the day the country was founded or the day the country became glorified etc. Japan has been sovereign and isolated throughout its history. It is believed that the foundation of Japan has taken place some two thousand years ago by its first Emperor named Jimmu. The Japanese believe that the archipelago had been ruled by Gods before the advent of its first Emperor. According to the Chinese calendar, the day Emperor Jimmu has taken over Japan coincides with the Chinese New Year. It is celebrated as the National Foundation Day every year on February 11. This holiday used to be celebrated quite grandiosely until the Second World War.

    Story of Jimmu

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


    There are many controversies surrounding February 11. After Japan became a post-World War 2 democracy, it was confined to just a holiday meant for spreading unity among Japanese people. It is due to the resistance towards monarchy that it is now not celebrated to its grandeur as it used to. However, it is proclaimed a National Holiday according to the Constitution. Also, historians say that the actual day of Jimmu’s coronation could precede the stated time and be in January due to confusion between the Gregorian and Chinese calendars. Apart from all these issues, it’s always interesting to know about the story behind the National Foundation Day and the Japanese Mythology. If you have time, pay a visit to Udo Shrine in Miyazaki prefecture where you can learn more about this part of Japanese ancient history.

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