Today is the Japanese Culture Day, bunka-no-hi, which has the purpose – what a surprise – to promote culture and arts, but also academic studies.
The first Culture Day was celebrated in 1948, as this was the day when the Japanese postwar constitution was announced two years earlier, in 1946. However, November 3rd had already been a holiday from 1868 – 1912; it was then celebrated as the birthday of the Meiji emperor. When he died, the practice ceased of course, but in 1927 the day became again a holiday, called Meiji-setsu. Hence, today has been a holiday – albeit under varying names – for about 130 years in total.
As I had last week off so to speak, I did my bit to appreciate culture, although not everything I thought I would. I went to the Kyoto National Museum and saw their normal collection in the newly built Heisei Chishinkan Wing, an interesting, brand-new building that had been opened in mid September this year.
From a friend I received a ticket to the International Print Exhibition, Australia and Japan, which is held in the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art until November 9th. There were prints (woodblocks, lithographs, engravings, etchings, modern photo prints…) of 38 Australian and 106 Japanese artists. There were some very striking pictures, but interestingly, I generally preferred the Japanese prints over the Australian ones.
Today, in celebration of the holiday, there is an interesting ceremony related to poetry going on in one of the shrines of Kyoto. The shrine is quite in the south of Kyoto, and I will have to leave soon to get a good spot for taking pictures. I shall write about this on Wednesday.