Do you know the story of the origin of Showa Day?

April 29 is “Showa no Ni(Showa Day)”, a national holiday of Japan. If you know anything about the Japanese era name, you must know that “Showa” was the era name of the Emperor of Japan from 1926 to 1989. But if you look at the list of Japanese national holidays, why is Showa Day only named after the era name? What exactly is this date? Why is there no Meiji Day, Taisho Day, Heisei Day, or even Reiwa Day?

Showa Day

Currently, April 29 is known as Showa Day in Japanese law, and is one of the national holidays in Japan and a part of Golden Week in May.

This day is historically the birthday of Emperor Showa, and is currently celebrated because the Showa era was a time when Japan eventually recovered from turmoil and hardship, and to celebrate that day is to remember what happened in the past and to encourage the Japanese people to fight for the future. So when was Showa Day established as a day of celebration? What happened before then?

There were three names for Showa Day

The Emperor’s birthday automatically became a feast day (holiday) according to Japanese law. After the death of Emperor Taisho in 1926 and the accession of Emperor Showa to the throne, April 29th became the “Emperor’s Birthday” holiday.

It lasted until 1989, when Emperor Showa died and the Crown Prince Akihito, who was the monarch of the Heisei era, took the throne, and the Emperor’s birthday was moved to December 23. So theoretically, April 29 should be restored as a weekday (ordinary day).

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However, as mentioned earlier, this day, along with the Constitution Day on May 3, Children’s Day on May 5, and weekends and possible compensatory holidays in between, constitutes the May Golden Week, and if this day were to become a weekday, it would have a great impact on the Golden Week vacation that has lasted for decades.

Therefore, in order to preserve this holiday and to commemorate Emperor Showa’s contribution as a biologist, this day has been called “Green Day” and has been kept as a day of blessing since 1989 in the name of “getting close to nature, thanking nature, and making the body and mind healthy and full”.

Almost 20 years later, in 2007, to commemorate the economic revival of the Showa Period, this day was renamed again and became our present Showa Day. And Green Day was moved to May 4, which is now commonly known as Golden Week holiday mode.

p.s. There is also a little story about why Green Day is May 4, and interested readers can check it out for themselves.

Why is there no Meiji Day or Taisho Day?

In a nutshell, there is no tradition of keeping the birthday of the emperor as a day of celebration.

However, there is something like “Meiji Day”. Emperor Meiji’s birthday was November 3, and after his death, it was celebrated as “Meiji Festival,” which was designated as “Culture Day” after Law of the Celebration was published in 1948, and has been in use ever since.


April 29 has had three names, from “Emperor’s Birthday” to “Green Day” to “Showa Day”. Although it was originally celebrated as the Emperor’s birthday, it has since become much more than a mere reason to celebrate the Emperor’s birthday. Therefore, although the year 2019 has changed from Heisei to Reiwa, Showa Day will remain unchanged and will be remembered as a day to look back and forward to the future.


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