“Perceive that which the eye cannot see,” Musashi Miyamoto, one of Japan’s most revered and cherished historical figures, once said. There is no better day than Culture Day to consider these words a bit more profoundly.

Culture Day (文化の日) is observed on November 3 every year, and it began as a day to commemorate the birthday of the reigning Emperor Meiji in 1968. In 1927, it was declared a national holiday in memory of the late Emperor and was called Meiji Setsu (明治節) before being renamed Culture Day. It is currently recognized as the country’s annual celebration of traditional Japanese culture and the values of freedom and peace that the Japanese constitution enshrined. Many museums across the nation give free admission on this day to enable the general public to dive into the history and culture of Japan. The celebrations organized in various prefectures invite everyone to engage with traditional Japanese culture. Even significant award ceremonies exist to recognize someone’s success in advancing Japanese culture. The Order of Culture Award Ceremony, which is held at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, is the main event of Culture Day. It is a Japanese medal given to people who have made outstanding contributions to advancing Japanese culture in fields like science, technology, academia, and the arts. The Emperor personally welcomes the prize winners and presents them with gratitude certificates.

Culture is a reflection of a community or nation, and it gives us a sense of belonging. It has been embedded in our lives for several generations and will do so for a long time to come.