Japan has one of the largest elderly populations in the world — 28.2% of the 125+ million people living in the country are 65 and older. While other countries vary in how they treat and respect the elderly, in Japan, seniors have always been revered for their wisdom and experience.
Japan respects its elders so much that it has a public holiday dedicated to them: Keiro no Hi, or “Respect for the Aged Day.”
What is Respect for the Aged Day?
All across Japan, Respect for the Aged Day is dedicated to celebrating seniors and their contributions to society. In Japanese culture, family and legacy are two deeply rooted core values. The Japanese people recognize that they could not be where they are today if it were not for the oldest generation.
To express gratitude, they spend the day showing appreciation for the elderly and honoring all that they’ve done for their society.
Keiro no Hi day dates back to 1945 in a small town called Yachiyocho (formerly Nomatanimura), located in Japan’s Hyōgo Prefecture. Shortly after World War I, the town declared September 15 Toshiyori no Hi, or “Old Folks’ Day.”
The town’s mayor, Masao Kadowaki, wanted to celebrate the elderly for their wisdom and encourage others to look to them for guidance during the difficult post-war period.
No one knows why Kadowaki chose that date to celebrate the elderly in his village; the most intriguing theory is that the legendary Prince Shotoku opened an old-aged home on that date – named after a god born on September 15.
In 1966, Respect for the Aged Day became a national public holiday, and in 2003, the celebration’s date changed to the third Monday of every September.
Why Everyone Everywhere Should Celebrate
While Respect for the Aged Day is Japanese by tradition, it is a celebration everyone should partake in worldwide. Seniors are not just the oldest generation — they’re our parents, grandparents, former teachers, engineers, doctors, customer service representatives, and so much more.
Seniors bridge the past, present, and future. They raised us, coached us, supported us, and made everything we have today possible.
How it’s Celebrated in Japanese Culture
There is no right or wrong way to celebrate Respect for the Aged Day in Japan. One way that many institutions celebrate is by volunteering to assist seniors in helpful ways. Some people may arrange for free bento boxes to be delivered for lunch, while others might hand out bags with necessities some seniors may struggle to acquire on their own.
The emphasis on this day centers around lending a helping hand to every older adult. Schools often organize special performances for the elderly in nursing homes; there are also keirokai events in the center of towns and cities, where all seniors are encouraged to come and enjoy performances in their honor. Some towns also hold special events.
Ways Everyone Can Celebrate
Anyone can celebrate Respect for the Aged Day. Here are some of our top suggestions for bringing this wonderful celebration into your home and community:
Donate to Local Nursing Homes
Create care packages for residents at nursing homes featuring fun activities like puzzles and board games, large-print books, and easy crafting kits. You can also include comfort items, like fuzzy socks and soft blankets.
Try calling nursing homes and asking what items they currently need. Consider setting up a donation drive at work or your children’s schools to spread further awareness and participation in celebrating the special day.
Express Your Gratitude
Whether with their favorite meal or a trip somewhere they love, plan something special to thank your elderly loved one for all they’ve done for you. You may even arrange a fun family get-together and ask each attendee to bring a small gift as a token of appreciation.
Many seniors are accustomed to blending into the background, so Respect for the Aged Day is the perfect opportunity to make them feel extra special.
Inform Local Businesses
You can reach out to some local businesses and tell them about this day. Many will be happy to offer special discounts for seniors the day or advertise the event on their social media.
Create a “Thank You” Keepsake Book
Let your loved ones know how much they mean to you by using a blank sketchbook to create a gratitude journal in their honor. Have family and friends write a heartfelt entry explaining how much they appreciate your loved one. To personalize the keepsake further, include photos and unforgettable memories.
Ask your aging loved ones what they need help with, and arrange to take care of all their essentials that day. Whether it’s a trip to the grocery store, grooming their dog, or trimming the hedges, chip in to help make their lives a little easier.
Volunteer to Help the Elderly in Your Area
Look for volunteer opportunities near you that benefit seniors. These include running errands, offering free transportation, and even making friendly visits to isolated seniors. You could join a senior penpal program, like Project Penpal, to ease some of the loneliness many seniors face in nursing homes and assisted living communities.
Make a Difference in Your Loved One’s Life
Quality senior care services are one of the greatest gifts you can give your aging loved one. Here at Reflections Management and Care, we cater to families all across the country whose older parents and loved ones reside in Baldwinsville, NY, and surrounding areas.
From geriatric assessments to home care and mental health counseling, we offer your loved ones everything they need to live comfortably and fully at this stage of their life.
Contact Reflections Management and Care today to learn more.