Japan: Long live the Emperor!

Holiday: The Emperor’s Birthday.


When? 23rd December.


Where? Japan.


The meaning. Emperor Akihito was born on this date in 1933. His birthday is an important national holiday in Japan.


How it's celebrated. On 23rd December a public ceremony takes place at the Imperial Palace, which is usually closed for people. The imperial family appears on the palace balcony in the special window and wave to public. The Emperor talks to the people of Japan in the NHK (national broadcast in Japan). He may not talk about politics. So he talks about his family, world peace, happiness and his gratitude for life. The crowd welcomes him, waving Japanese flags. On this day all over Japan there are festivals and celebrations in the honor of the Emperor. People respect him for the reforms.


Family traditions. Satoko Narumi came to Europe from Japan in 1999 to study opera singing. Since 2001 she has been working in the choir of the Klagenfurt’s Theatre. She is married to the Austrian and has a son, Shin, 5 years old. “It’s very important for me not to forget our Japanese traditions”, Satoko admits. “Shin, for example, speaks Japanese as well as German, although he can speak it only with me. I try to tell him about the customs of our folk and Japanese holidays and read Japanese fairy tales”.


On the Emperor’s birthday Satoko tells her son about the history of Japan, who the Emperor Akihito is and what he has done for his country. The emperor’s greeting can be watched on the internet. Satoko prepares national Japanese dishes (rice balls, seafood) as a sign that she remembers her traditions. “I love Austria, it’s an amazing land”, Satoko says. “Austrians are nice and helpful. Carinthian nature is unique. But sometimes I become really homesick and look for something that reminds me of my home”.



1. Satoko Narumi with his son Shin enjoys Carinthian nature.

2. Satoko with Shin celebrates Austrian and Japan holidays.

3. Shin attends Waldorf Kindergarten and speaks two languages, German and Japan.

Photos of the Japanese emperor's birthday by Damon Coulter can be seen here: http://damoncoulter.photoshelter.com/gallery/Japanese-Emperors-Birthday/G0000LQEdLYZkMA4/C0000z0pJogXFNGw

Text and photos: Vita Vitrenko