#1 Best Guide: The Emperor’s Birthday In Japan

The Emperor's Birthday In Japan

If you find yourself in Japan around February 23rd as a tourist or expat, get ready for a one-of-a-kind cultural experience on the Emperor’s Birthday. I know what you might be thinking, won’t everything be closed? While it’s true most businesses and attractions shut their doors that day, this insider guide will show you how to uncover amazing imperial traditions and celebrations that open a window into the soul of Japan.

Trust me, whether you love history, want to rub shoulders with royalty, or simply experience Japan at its most genuine, you won’t find a better day than this national holiday to take in one of Asia’s most fascinating cultures. No need to stick to your usual sightseeing plans on February 23rd!

Ready? If yes, then read on and discover some useful information and handy Japanese words to help you out. Let’s begin!

The Emperor's Birthday Grounds

What Is The Emperor’s Birthday Ceremony?

I bet you’re wondering what exactly goes down on Japan’s Emperor Naruhito’s birthday celebration on February 23rd. Well, get ready for some serious Japanese imperial family tradition!

Unlike your average birthday bash, they really go all out to mark the Emperor’s special day across Japan. For starters, they move the national holiday every time a new monarch takes the throne, so it always falls on the current ruler’s real birthdate – pretty fancy! This year marks Emperor Naruhito’s 63rd birthday, if you can believe it.

The best part for us visitors is the rare chance to see Japan’s royal family in person at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. This is one of only two times the entire year that tourists can enter the inner palace grounds (New Year’s being the other). I know, crazy special!

On the big day itself, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako wave and smile to thousands of well-wishers gathered outside to congratulate them and watch traditional dance performances. You’ll see the rest of the extended imperial family dressed in formal attire too. How’s that for close-up royal access?!

Is The Emperor’s Birthday A National Holiday?

You betcha the Emperor’s birthday is a big enough deal to score National Holiday status in Japan! They call it “Tennou Tanjyobi” or 天皇誕生日 if you want to impress your Japan-savvy friends.

This special day off work and school for the Emperor’s birthday only happens once a year on February 23rd for Emperor Naruhito’s celebration. The holiday means most people have the day totally free to honor the Emperor by joining in public festivities. Students love it since the school’s out, banks and offices are closed, and many shops and restaurants are boarded up too.

But here’s an important tip: not ALL attractions close up shop on his birthday!

Celebrate The Japanese Emperor's Birthday

How To Celebrate The Japanese Emperor’s Birthday?

Alright, ready to dive into some banging Emperor’s Birthday events like a true Japan insider? Lucky you, I’ve got all the hot spots and celebrations mapped out!

Obviously the main event goes down at the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Thousands line up bright and early to watch the royal family greet the public on a special balcony viewing. This is your golden chance to actually lay eyes on the Emperor and Empress!

Another awesome way to celebrate is heading to the Imperial Household Agency building. Here you can catch a traditional dance performance specifically put on to honor Emperor Naruhito’s birthday. We’re talking fancy costumes and music straight from imperial court history.

If historical sites are more your speed, visit the ancestral shrines closely linked to the imperial family. Top picks are Kashikodokoro Shrine and Tōgu-gū Shrine in Tokyo, plus Ise Grand Shrine down south.

For the ultimate Japanese experience, pick up commemorative sweets decorated with imperial family crests sold just for the Emperor’s birthday. Limited-edition sake using the chrysanthemum seal is another cool souvenir.

The Emperor's Birthday - Japanese tourists

Easy Japanese Phrases For The Emperor’s Birthday

Want to sound like a cultured world traveler when experiencing Emperor Naruhito’s big birthday bash? Then arm yourself with these key Japanese vocabulary words and phrases to throw down during the celebrations!

Start with wishing locals a happy national holiday by saying:

“Tenchōsetsu, omedetō!” (天長節、おめでとう!)

Give a royal toast at your next sake bar with:

“Tenno heika banzai!” (天皇陛下万歳!) Which means, “Long live the emperor!”

When the imperial family waves from the palace balcony, impress everyone around you by cheering:

“Okkakei yo!” (おっかけーいよ!)

Buy those cute chrysanthemum seal sweets for souvenirs and pleasantly say to the shopkeeper:

“Kore o kudasai.” (これをください。) Meaning, “I’ll take this, please.”

And don’t forget to thank helpful locals by exclaiming:

“Dōmo arigatō gozaimashita!” (どうもありがとうございましたー!)

Pretty cool how even just mastering a few key phrases can give you a big boost in enjoying Japan’s festive mood on the Emperor’s big day, right? It also shows respect for Japanese culture and helps you connect with locals on a deeper level.

Ready To Meet Japan’s Reigning Emperor?

Well, there you have it, my insider guide to totally rocking Emperor Naruhito’s birthday holiday like a Japan travel pro!

Now you’re in the know on the best cultural celebrations across Japan, top spots to potentially see the Imperial family, handy etiquette tips for the holiday, and even key Japanese phrases to test out. You’ll blend right in with the locals and come home with amazing memories.

And if you find yourself needing more insider Japan travel advice as you explore, I highly recommend downloading the Ling app. I use it all the time to get useful phrases for menus, ask directions from locals, and research recommendations at each destination.

It even has fun cultural lessons on topics related to Japanese Etiquette, Anime, Zen gardens, and more to take your Japan experience up a notch. It also helps you chat naturally in Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and over 60 languages! Give it a try today!

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