What You Need to Know About “Oyako Day” (Parent-And-Child Day)

  • Foodies who love Japanese cuisine will definitely have heard of the “oyako don” (chicken and egg rice bowl) before. As can be deduced from its ingredients – chicken and eggs – “oyako” is a Japanese phrase that literally means “parent and child,” hence the name for this dish. But have you come across the term “Oyako Day,” a trend that is currently gaining momentum in Japan? Just what is this day about? Who initiated this celebration? How can I get involved in this celebration? This article will answer all these questions and more!

    What is Oyako Day?

    As its name suggests, “Oyako Day” (Parent-and-Child Day) is a day for parents and children to take stock of and celebrate their precious and priceless bond by taking photographs to commemorate their relationship. Japanese people typically love to have their photo taken as they cheerfully display their trademark peace signs, so undertaking a photo session together is bound to evoke a lot of fun and laughter. Fittingly, this day has been held on the fourth Sunday of July, which makes it easy to remember since Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are celebrated on the second Sunday of May and third Sunday of June respectively!

    Who founded it?

    Since 1982, American photographer Bruce Osborn and his wife Yoshiko Osborn have made it their life mission to help thousands of parent-child pairs capture for all posterity the love and affection they have for each other. In 2003, they decided to take it one step further and campaigned to establish Oyako Day as an official national holiday. They have yet to be successful, but their steadfast conviction has won them the support of many partners, who have come on board to help publicize Oyako Day.

    What’s interesting about their work?

    Encompassing people from all walks of life, Bruce and Yoshiko Osborn’s photos are a testament to the truth of the sayings “like father, like son” and “like mother, like daughter.” It is perhaps not surprising that the child often looks like a carbon copy of his or her parent, but it is uncanny how a parent-child pair often evokes the same air and how often a child embarks on the same profession as his or her parent. No wonder people say that blood is thicker than water! Here are some heartwarming images below:

    The photographer couple also went to Tohoku after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami and embarked on a special Oyako series that wonderfully showcased the strength and tenacity of Tohoku families who were determined to move on with their lives. Some of their images include:

    Just how can I celebrate Oyako Day?

    As with previous years, Mr. Osborn took carefully curated shots of one hundred pairs of parents and children last July 24, 2016. Why not support his efforts in spirit by making a trip down to your neighborhood studio to have your family portrait taken for next year’s Oyako Day?

    We are born into our families and having deep, fulfilling relationships with them will enable us to live life purposefully and connect meaningfully with others around us. Bruce and Yoshiko Osborn have, with this simple gem of an idea, reminded us of the need to build on our familial ties. Hontou ni arigatou gozaimasu! (Thank you very much!)

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