Following Showa Day and Constitution Memorial Day during Japan’s annual Golden Week, a series of national holidays beginning at the end of April, is Greenery Day. As you may have guessed, Greenery Day, celebrated May 4th, stays true to its name and celebrates all things green! The holiday can also be referred to as Midori no Hi, which literally translates to green day.
The idea for the holiday came about after the passing of Emperor Hirohito, the same emperor honored during Golden Week’s first holiday Showa Day. Emperor Hirohito was a lover of nature and spreading of environmental awareness had always been very important to him. In fact, he dedicated much of his life to this cause and spend a great deal of time looking for ways to improve the environment, including opening the Imperial Biological Research Institute. The beloved Emperor passed in January of 1989 and the people of Japan wanted to find a way to remember him and continue the work that he was passionate about- so what better way than to create a holiday dedicated to nature and the environment!
Originally, April 29th, which was the Emperor’s birthday, was dubbed Midori no Hi, following his death. However, the Japanese government decided Emperor Hirohito’s birthday should still be celebrated each year despite his passing, so Greenery Day was moved to May 4th and thus Showa Day was born. This way, the country can honor the Emperor’s memory and all his accomplishments on his birthday while still taking a day to celebrate nature and all things green.
Today, Japanese citizens use May 4th as an excuse to flock to their local parks with their families for some springtime fun. Cities, such as Tokyo, host dozens of events such as concerts, parades, and planting trees. The holiday is also used to address current environmental issues and spread awareness. Initiatives are taken to clean up parks, beaches, and streets. So if you are in Japan during this time, especially around Tokyo, expect to see hundreds of people sweeping and picking up trash all over town.