Happy Japanese Culture Day!

Happy Bunka no Hi!

November 3 is Bunka no Hi, or Culture Day, in Japan. Originally designated to celebrate Emperor Meiji’s birthday, the holiday has progressed into a day that spotlights Japanese culture, arts, and academics. On this day in 1946, the Japanese government made an open declaration of the ratification of the new Japanese constitution at the end of World War II. The first official Culture Day was held in 1948 to commemorate that occasion.

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Bunka Kunsho medal

Each year the Japanese government awards the Order of Culture, or Bunka Kunsho (the highest culture award), to recognize people who have dedicated themselves to promoting Japanese culture and who have excelled academically. Emperor Akihito presents the awards in a ceremony at the Imperial Palace.

This year’s recipients were Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura, two of the three Japanese natives who were also awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work in inventing an efficient blue LED. The third Nobel Prize Laureate, Isamu Akasaki, received the Order of Culture in 2011. Other recipients include bunraku narrator and Living National Treasure Takemoto Sumitayu; Toyoki Kunitake, a researcher in molecular architecture; economist Takashi Negishi; Western-style painter Gyoji Nomiyama; and Taeko Kono, a writer and critic who is considered one of the most important contemporary writers in Japan.

How will you celebrate Bunka no Hi in New York? Will you eat ramen or drink sake?

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Ramen Misoya

Will you see the current Komodaru Furniture exhibition at RESOBOX Gallery? Most museums and galleries are closed on Mondays, but maybe you can extend Bunka no Hi into November 4 to see Ishiuchi Miyako’s photography of Hiroshima artifacts at Andrew Roth Gallery, Tsukasa Kanawa x Shinya Kato: Close Enough to Walk Apart at ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn, or visit Japan Society’s current exhibition Garden of Unearthly Delights.

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Manabu Ikeda, (b. 1973), Foretoken, 2008. Pen, acrylic ink on paper, mounted on boards; 72 x 132 in. Collection of Sustainable Investor Co., Ltd. © Manabu Ikeda, courtesy Mizuma Art Gallery.

Perhaps you’ll read a book by Kenzaburo Oe, the only person to refuse to accept the prestigious Order of Culture award.

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Kenzaburo Oe

Whatever you do, make sure your day has a little Japanese culture in it!