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Respect for the Aged Day

Respect for the Aged Day 2019 and 2020

Respect for the Aged Day is a holiday that is widely celebrated across Japan.

201916 SepMonRespect for the Aged Day
202021 SepMonRespect for the Aged Day

Known in Japanese as Keiro no Hi, Respect for the Aged Day honors Japan’s elderly citizens. The holiday recognizes the contributions that elderly citizens have made to Japanese society. During the holiday, Japanese people wish a good future and longevity for Japan’s oldest demographic group. Like many other Japanese holidays, Respect for the Aged Day allows people to reunite after months of being away from their families. Respect for the Aged Day is celebrated on the 3rd Monday of September each year.


Respect for the Aged Day was introduced in Japan on September 15, 1947. On this day, the government of Nomadani-Mura in Hyoga decided to honor the town’s elderly people. They called their holiday Toshiyori no Hi, or Old Folk’s Day. Since the first Toshiyori no Hi celebration in 1947 was a large success, the government of Nomadani-Mura decided to celebrate the holiday on an annual basis. Eventually, Toshiyori no Hi became popular and it was celebrated in towns across Hyoga and other provinces. The holiday continued to spread over the course of two decades. On 1966, the national government of Japan decided to make an official holiday to pay respect to elderly citizens. Today, Respect for the Aged Day is becoming a larger holiday in Japan due to the growing elderly population. Respect for the Aged Day will be a relevant holiday for Japanese people for many years to come.

Ties to Filial Piety

Respect for the Aged Day is closely related to ideals such as filial piety. Filial piety is a system that demands respect from younger generations to older generations. More specifically, filial piety requires that children are obedient to their parents. This custom comes from ancient traditions and belief systems that were borrowed from Chinese Confucianism. Respect for the Aged Day is a key indicator that the ideals of filial piety are still common in modern Japanese culture.

Keiro no Hi Celebrations

While Respect for the Aged Day is not known for extravagant festivities, the holiday does have some fun traditions and events.

  • Keiro no Hi Lunch

    One of the most popular aspects of Keiro no Hi is lunch. Many restaurants and dining establishments offer free meals for elderly people on Respect for the Aged Day. There are no traditional foods associated with the holiday, so elderly people can often order their favorite dishes. The free luncheon is only provided to elderly Japanese citizens, so younger people will have to bring money if they wish to dine with their elderly loved ones.

  • Musical Performances

    On Respect for the Aged Day, many Japanese music groups will travel to retirement homes and town centers to perform for elderly people. Dance performances and plays are also common. These events are often free to the public.

  • Gifts

    In many ways, Respect for the Aged Day is similar to a birthday celebration. It is a common practice for younger people to give gifts to the elderly people in their families. The adult children of the elderly people in a family may offer a gift that they purchased from a store. Some popular gift choices include candy and useful items. Young children often create crafts and various handmade items to give to their elderly relatives. In some small towns in Japan, it is common for the local government office to provide commemorative gifts to their elderly citizens.

  • Media Coverage

    Every major media outlet in Japan pays respect to elderly Japanese citizens during Keiro no Hi. While national news organizations may be generic, local TV stations and newspapers often cover stories about the deeds of elderly people in their communities. This media coverage is very optimistic, so it blends well with the overall themes of the holiday.

  • Travel

    Respect for the Aged Day is often a busy travel day in Japan. People from across Japan will travel from their homes or universities to visit their elderly relatives in retirement homes and other areas. It is also common for Japanese people to take their elderly relatives with them on a short vacation to another city or nature area. Since Respect for the Aged Day always falls on a Monday, people can use a long weekend to travel and relax. Vernal Equinox Day celebrations can make the weekend even longer.

  • Volunteer

    People that no longer have elderly people in their family can still celebrate Respect for the Aged Day by volunteering. Many Japanese people decide to volunteer at community centers to create a tasty lunch for elderly citizens. People with musical talents often volunteer to provide entertainment to elderly people on Respect for the Aged Day.

Respect for the Aged Day is a holiday in Japan that honors elderly citizens and their contributions to society.