Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Respect for the Aged Day in Japan

Handmade Classic Japanese
Red Sakura Cherry Blossom
The third Monday of September is traditionally Respect for the Aged Day, a national holiday in Japan. 

In 1951 there was Old People's Day (or Old Folks' Day), Toshiyori no Hi. Some show its origins back as far as the 1940s. In 1966, it was designated a national holiday, Respect for the Aged Day or Keiro no Hi.

It's like Grandparents' Day in the US but a more serious holiday. The Japanese hold a particularly special place in their culture and their hearts for the aged in their society. Japan has the longest life expectancy of any country in the world.

The 100-and-over population is growing by about a thousand each year, and there were 7,373 centenarians in 1996. according to the Management and Coordination Agency, nearly one out of every six persons is 65 or above.

One major contributor to the the long lives of the Japanese has been thought to be their traditional diet. But this is also changing as more and more Japanese people add meat and other western foods to what they eat. 

Young at Heart 

City living also has been seen to cut lifespan as as pollution and stress becomes more and more a part of daily life. As Japan's society ages and nursing homes become more popular, it's speculated that being old may not be so special anymore, but rather the norm.

Because Respect for the Aged Day is a relatively new holiday, there are no customs particularly associated with this day. Through the years, more and more Japanese people have expressed an interest in celebrating the occasion. As the population of Japan is growing older, some of these traditions may be changing.

Origami Thousand Cranes Kit (below) Having a special birthday or other event? This is a very meaningful gift as it's something that you, your family and friends construct and decorate with yourselves. You may choose gold foil to create your cranes.

Annually, Japanese media take the opportunity to feature the elderly. They feature reports
which highlight the oldest people in the country.  A keirokai ceremony or show may be held. 

One article said that these ceremonies that used to be held for those 60 years old and over had changed as so many residents are over the age of 60 now. 

The qualifying age in one area has steadily increased and is now 65. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government pays a visit to Japanese citizens in the Tokyo area who are 100 years or older.

Some neighborhood volunteers distribute free obento boxed lunches to elderly people. Cultural programs and events spotlighting the elderly are held in communities. In some elementary schools, children draw pictures or make simple handmade items to present to their grandparents or the residents of nursing homes. 

Smaller villages will hold shows where the younger people and school children prepare dances and songs for the keirokai ceremony. The elderly attendees are also treated to a special meal.

Kanreki, Turning 60, Japanese tradition, Celebrations

Enjoy a song by The Zimmers

Content derived from a variety of sources.
Information intended to be accurate but cannot be guaranteed.

1 comment:

  1. Thank-you very much for featuring Vadoma the Gypsy in your blog post! She is as pleased and thrilled as I am! And to be surrounded by such a thoughtful post about the elderly is the icing on the cake. She's a feisty gypsy woman with a long life behind her and ahead of her. I love her passion, her zeal for life. Still dancing and spinning and twirling and loving every drop of life at the grand old age of... *ahem* well, we'll just say at her mature age and leave it at that. Your post about the Japanese culture's traditions and festivities celebrating the "Aged" have Vadoma intrigued. She's got that traveling itch I can tell, perhaps she'll be wandering over to Japan some day to party keirokai style. ;)
    Thank-you very much, I enjoyed your post as much as Vadoma did!


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