What is “Respect for the elderly Day“? It’s literally a day to show respect to all elderly people!

Keirou-no-hi, or Respect for the elderly day is one of the Japan’s national holidays. It was started through caring for elders in Japan. When and how was it started, and what does it mean?

Respect for the Elderly Day

The family

September 21st is the day for it in 2015! Respect your elders!

National holidays are always a big part of history and culture in any country. Respect for the Aged Day is designated on every third Monday in September to respect elderly people who have long been contributing to make a better society. People generally write letters and/or give them gifts to show their gratitude. I remember as a child, when I had some class projects at school that involved drawing my elders’ portraits and giving them as gifts on this day.

Flowers and a present

It started in 1947.

Respect for the Aged Day originally started in 1947 when a village master in Hyogo Prefecture proposed a “Day for the old”. At the time, advise and wisdom from elderly people was essential to the rules and development of a village. In appreciation, that village held a party to show respect on every September 15th. 3 years later, it spread all over Hyogo Prefecture and was finally fixed as a national holiday all over Japan. There is another theory about the founding of this day. Some say that Shotoku Taishi opened a nursing home called “Hiden-in” in 593 for those who lost their family, and Respect-for-the-Aged-Day is was derived from this. If it is true, that means Japan has been a very elder-friendly country for quite a long time.

What should Japanese people give on this day?

Japanese people don’t know the right answer, so many people don’t know what to give on this special day. I myself, as well as many others, want to offer something different from the previous year, but it’s quite hard to do every year. The most comon gifts are flowers and sweets. Things that everybody can enjoy are really easy to choose. However, I think the most precious gift is your heart. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on gifts, because your heartfelt efforts are the best gift for them! Don’t worry about giving them gifts, just cooking a meal, or watching a movie together are cool things to do. Surprise them and do something that’ll also entertain you!

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Writer / Translator

I’m a freelance translator from Tokyo who likes to travel right in the middle of the unpredictables in life. Through the translation of articles I hope to create points of contact between Japan and the rest of the world. As a writer, I want to add information that isn’t in the guide book, from a “wasabi” perspective!