Thursday, February 11, 2016

Happy Birthday Japan

February 11 is a national holiday in a country famous for its many days of rest. Which is not a bad thing as people typically take only a fraction of their company annual leave. In total there are sixteen here compared with the US where there appear to be around ten but then these are topped up with local and state days away from the grind as well. Germany has six weeks annual leave so I haven't even researched how many additional days and anyone going to France in August will miss the entire population as it decamps to the country.

But February 11 is National Foundation Day in Japan. It was designed around the ascension of the first Emperor Jimmu some two and a half thousand years ago. Initially the government fluffed it though. In 1872, choosing the Chinese New Year, the populace thought it was all associated with China rather than Japan and so the following year it was switched to the fixed date of February 11. And it has been there ever since.

Occasionally it can be hijacked by the far right wing with speaker vans blaring across the country, usually in relation to the Russian discussion of the ownership of four islands off the north coast of Hokkaido, or more recently minor arguments with China over a chunk of rock that the Tokyo government decided to buy from a private family, sparking renewed disagreement. But most people simply put their feet up. Not much happens on this day. Winter is receding but Spring has yet to arrive. And the coffee on the veranda is actually very nice. Happy Birthday Japan.

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