Keiro No Hi: Respect for the Aged Day Japan | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
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Keiro No Hi: Respect for the Aged Day Japan

By Yae Sep 16, 2022

Did you know there is a day people express their thanks and respect to their elders in Japan? We call it Keiro No Hi (敬老の日) in Japanese which translates as “Respect for the Aged Day”. 

Did you spend time together with your grandparents when you were young? There are lots of ways they have supported us throughout the years. Let’s see how “Keiro No Hi” started and how people spend this day in Japan.

1. The Origin of Respect for the Aged Day

The origin of “Respect for the Aged Day” traces back to Hyogo Prefecture in Japan. In 1947, after World War II, a small town called Nomatanimura (now Yachiyocho) decreed that the 15th of September should become Toshiyori No Hi (Day for the Elderly). The mayor believed the town should respect their elders and their guidance after the struggles of the war.

This celebration spread throughout the country and was renamed Keiro No Hi.

2. Respect for the Aged Day is a Public Holiday in Japan

Respect for the Aged Day was legislated as a national holiday in 1966 in accordance with the National Holidays Act, with the purpose of the holiday being to “express respect for the elderly in our communities and wish them longevity.” It was originally celebrated on September 15th but was changed in 2003 with the introduction of the “Happy Monday System” – a system to provide more 3-day weekends for those working Monday-Friday jobs. Since then the day is celebrated on the third Monday of September.

Similar days to respect senior people in other countries are as follows:

□ “National Grandparents Day” in the US (the first Sunday after Labor Day)
□ “Grandmother Day” (January 21st) and “Grandfather Day” (January 22nd) in Poland
□ “Grandparents Day” in Italy (October 2nd)

3. What People Do on This Day

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In Japan people gifts to their grandparents to express their gratitude or have dinner with all the family together, wishing them a long, fruitful life.

If you live far from your parents’ and start to live in your own home (because of marriage or work), regular family gatherings become a little difficult. So if you are able to visit your parents and bring along your children on “Respect for the Aged Day”, you will bring them joy!

One day if you become a grandparent in the future, you may truly know how nice it is to be surrounded by your family.

According to the Act on Social Welfare for the Elderly, seniors are defined as “persons who have contributed to the development of society for many years and who have abundant knowledge and experience”. So you don’t need to think too much about whether your parents or grandparents fit in the demographic; it’s just important to show them love and respect.

4. When is it?

The “Respect for the Aged Day” falls on the third Monday of September, so the date changes every year.

Here are the upcoming dates:

2022 September 19 Monday
2023 September 18 Monday
2024 September 16 Monday
2025 September 15 Monday

4. Gifts to Give Your Elders for Keiro No Hi 

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According to gift shop statistics, here are the top gifts that make your seniors happy:

For Granddad:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Clothes/accessories
  3. Gift Tickets/ coupons
  4. Japanese Sweets
  5. Western Sweets

For Grandma:

  1. Flowers
  2. Clothes/Accessories
  3. Gift Tickets
  4. Japanese Sweets
  5. Western-Style Sweets

As you may notice, both grandparents appreciate accessories as gifts, maybe as a way to remember their family members as they wear said gifts every day. What present do you give your elders?

Grandparents in Japan also appreciate warm-hearted letters expressing your love and care, and handmade gifts or drawings from their grandchildren.

Remembering Respect for the Aged Day in Japan

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If you are busy with work throughout the year, how about you visit the elderly people in your life and show them some respect on Keiro No Hi this year? If you’re separated by country, maybe you can send them a letter, or an email if they are computer savvy.

One day, you will also be an elder. And when people of the younger generation such as your family and friends show you their appreciation, you’ll feel like the happiest person in the world.

Read these next: 

Every Public Holiday For 2022!

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