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Nature Reigns

Japan's Greenery Day
  • The Old Bamboo-Hewer's Story : Taketori ... (by )
  • The Sacred Books and Early Literature of... (by )
  • The Sacred Books and Early Literature of... (by )
  • Japanese Prints (by )
  • The Tale of Genji (by )
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Greenery Day, which is also known as “Midori no Hi” is a national holiday in Japan that is currently celebrated on May 4th.  

The holiday, which was originally called Shōwa Day marked Emperor Shōwa Hirohito’s birthday on April 29th and was observed every year during the Shōwa era

Reigning from December 25, 1926, until his death on January 7, 1989, Emperor Shōwa was the head of state under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan during its imperial expansion, militarization, and involvement in World War II. The leader had a keen interest in marine biology.

Following his passing in 1989 and the ascension of his son Emperor Akihito to the “Chrysanthemum Throne,”
the holiday was renamed “Greenery Day” to honor Emperor Shōwa’s appreciation and love of plants and nature. 

Although the holiday was celebrated yearly on April 29, in 2007 it was moved to May 4th. April 29th then became known as Shōwa Day.
As the May 4th’s name suggests, Greenery Day celebrates nature. To mark the occasion, people show gratitude for nature and its many blessings. Commemorative plantings of trees mark the day, as well as events that aim to bring people closer to nature.

Nature has always been and still remains a significant part of Japanese culture. It’s interesting to note that many recognizable Japanese brands have names that are also derived from nature. The words “kawa saki” translate to river cape while “suzu ki” means bell tree or bell wood.

In honor of Greenery Day, let us discover some classic Japanese literature that incorporates nature. The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East presents within its pages Matsuo Bashō, one of the foremost poets of the Edo Period who has many haiku meditations on nature. A 10th century story known as The Old Bamboo-Hewer’s Story: Taketori Monogatari tells a strange yet fantastical tale of a plant with glowing stalks. The Tale of Genji, although not a story of nature, finds its roots in traditional Japanese views of nature by titling each chapter as a type of flower. 

By Regina Molaro

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