Today is Culture Day, so I went to Culture Centre for the exhibition they have every year. It was pretty fun since everybody knows everybody in the “culture scene” so to speak so I ran into acquaintances every three meters. Besides two days of performances of everything from choir to shakuhachi to sword dances to hula, there are also displays of art, calligraphy, ikebana, kimono, waka poetry, and more. Especially fun is the public tea seating, this year put on by the Urasenke style Nishikawa Shachu. My town is not big, but not small, so we have several groups of tea practitioners. Mrs. Nishikawa, besides teaching tea, also teaches ikebana and kimono, and her son is the priest of my town’s shrine. His daughter is one of my students at school and, in addition to being a charm young girl, is quite good at English for her age. So they are a pretty amazing family. Anyway, I took some pictures of the tea seating that I will share with you, as well as translated a bit about Culture Day and it’s historical significance.

Today is the holiday called “Culture Day”, but this day (November 3rd), until it was renamed Culture Day in Showa 23, was a holiday called “Meiji Setsu”. November 3rd is the birthday of the Meiji Emperor so it was a holiday to celebrate the wise virtue of the great Emperor Meiji who oversaw the building of the foundation of modern Japan.

Meiji Setsu was established as a holiday in Showa 2 in response to the removal of “Emperor Meiji Day” (“The Late Emperor’s Day”) upon the death of the Taisho Emperor. Along with New Year’s Day, Foundation Day, and Emperor’s Birthday, it was considered one of the Four Great Holidays. Schools and organizations across all over the country celebrated with ceremonies the wise virtue of the Meiji Emperor.

Even today, large shrines, especially shrines with a deep connection to the imperial household, and organizations with traditions extending back before the war celebrate this day as “Meiji Setsu” rather than as “Culture Day”, and as a shrine there is the festival of “Meiji Setsu” to enact. As an aside, the festival regulations established by the Association of Shinto Shrines have designated Meiji Day along with New Year’s Day, Origin Day, Foundation Day, Emperor’s Birthday etc. as a mid-ranked festival.

On the other hand, “Culture Day”, which was freshly established after the war, was a memorial day with aim of “promoting culture and the love of freedom and peace”, according to the Law Relating to People’s Holidays. Because the current Japanese Constitution stresses freedom and culture, the day the Constitution was promulgated–November 3rd–was decided on to memorialize it. (By the way, Constitution Day on May 3rd is not the day the constitution was promulgated, but the day it was enacted.) So officially Culture Day is a holiday without any connection to Meiji Setsu and the fact that Culture Day is the same day as Meiji Setsu (Nov. 3rd) is pure coincidence. But actually, it is said that the day of the promulgation of the Constitution was made to match the day of Meiji Setsu.

The Mizusashi

The Futaoki

The Kettle

The Natsume and Chashaku

The Smoking Box

I thought the chrysanthemum at the bottom of my bowl was a lovely touch, being both a seasonal flower and the imperial seal.