Today, Nov. 3, is the Culture Day in Japan. This holiday is meant to celebrate the love of liberty, peace and cultural endeavor. The day was initially established in 1948 to commemorate the proclamation of Japanese Post- WWII constitution on Nov. 1946. However, historically Nov. 3 had already had the national significance as the day to honor the birthday of Meiji Emperor. Probably, Nov. 3 was chosen as a holiday to commemorate the new significance of the democratic and peace-loving Japan (the article 9 of the Japanese constitution prohibits Japan to engage in war as a means to settle international disputes among the states) after the devastating defeat in order to maintain the continuity of Japan as a nation in spite of then prevailing anarchy and chaos.
These days, Culture Day is celebrated all over Japan in schools, colleges, museums, and so on. At the imperial palace, people who contributed to cultural and artistic endeavors get honored. At schools, students express themselves culturally and artistically, for instance, by performing in plays and musical shows. People can also enjoy free museum visits on this day.
As far as I know, the strangest Culture Day Festival is the one held at the Fuchu Prison in the Tokyo suburb, which is said to be the largest prison in Japan. On this day the law-abiding citizens of Japan can enjoy the Adventure Tour in a tour bus within the prison, and eat the prison lunch, supposedly the same food as prisoners’ food, and purchase the craft works and bread rolls created by the prisoners. The money earned is said to be placed in the victims’ fund. Some prisoners can even form a musical band to entertain the visitors. I suppose this kind of interaction with regular people may help rehabilitate the prisoners. (I hope this Adventure Tour is not held in the spirit of visiting the zoo or the insane asylum once popular in early 19th-century England.)
I miss the Japanese Culture Day, and hope the US will also set up a day like this as a national holiday when families can enjoy cultural and artistic activities.