Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Keiro-No-Hi - Respect for the Elders

by aleks
I stopped by the Garden to participate a bit in one of the most touching Japanese celebrations: keiro-no-hi, or Respect-for-the-Aged Day. It's a national holiday in Japan and according to the Cabinet Office of the Japanese Government, keiro-no-hi is defined as “The day to give respect to the elderly, who have served society for many years, and celebrate their longevity.”

SJG • 9/17/12 - Tankokai Tea Ceremony (second of 3 that day) in front of Tateuchi Community Room - the senior adults are  viewing from inside

Our western, so called  'culture' is pretty disrespectful to elders if you ask me, so it is extremely refreshing that Seattle Parks and Recreation Department finds it important to honor the wisdom and experience of grey headed fellow humans by offering a free welcome day of music, tea ceremonies and refreshments in a beautiful setting of the Garden that is getting gently 'autumnal' itself at this time of the year.

SJG • 9/17/12  - Respect for the Elders Day

I do not know much about this grand Keiro-No-Hi tradition, except for the experience of it in our Japanese Garden, so here are a few 'lifts' from better sources of information:

From Suite-101, shared free lance publishing siteJapan's Keiro no Hi can be traced back as far as 1947, but it became increasingly popular around the country and was declared a national holiday in 1966. Originally it occurred every September 15, but beginning in 2003 it was changed to the third Monday in September in order to offer a long weekend.

Keiro No Hi Traditions
The holiday is born out of a traditional Confucian value of respect for one's elders. In some neighborhoods, volunteers deliver free lunches around the area to elderly neighbors and friends. Smaller villages often hold "keirokai" ceremonies in which school children and young people sing and dance as part of a celebration for their elders, that also includes a free lunch, tea and dessert for the attendees. [...]

SJG • 9/17/12 - Midori Kono Thiel just finished her second koto performance
in the Yamada style; standing with Rachel Harris - SJG events coordinator
 Thank you, Rachel, for a great day! 

TsukuBlog has detailed historical explanation of the holiday by Avi Landau, complete with Japanese 'meaning' that is derived from how the ages are written in Kanji characters: it goes to 100 y.o. so check it yourself:

The 60th year (kanreki, 還暦), meaning a return to the beginning of the cycle, as it heralds completing the path through the full five cycles of the Sino-Japanese zodiac (jikkan-junishi), and coming back once again to the original combination of signs that you were born with. This event is commonly celebrated throughout East-Asia.

The 70th year (koki, 古希), the name of which derives from a popular verse by the great Chinese poet Tufu (Toho, 杜甫, in Japanese). The poem goes: Jinsei nanaju korai mare nari (人生七十古来稀なり),meaning that (in those days) reaching the age of 70 was a rare occurrence. [...]

SJG • 9/17/12  - Respect for the Elders Day...

No wonder that Japan is one of the countries with the longest life expectancy in the world:).  Thanks Midori,  Seattle Tankokai and Seattle Parks!

I found this amazing flowers blooming by the E path, area I. Have no clue what it is - hopefully will find out to tell you.

UPDATE on flowers, from Liz, commenting below: The flowers are Colchicum, also known as Autumn Crocus (although not related to crocus at all).  Thanks Liz!  More on the plant here on wikipedia : [...] Its leaves, corm and seeds are poisonous. Murderess Catherine Wilson is thought to have used it to poison a number of victims in the 19th century. [...]


  1. The flowers are Colchicum, also known as Autumn Crocus (although not related to crocus at all). What a lovely ceremony. I wish I could come to your garden, I love Japanese gardens. I would love to come over to see the Japanese Cherry Trees in blossom.

  2. Liz, thank you very much for info about Colchicum! i enjoyed looking through your garden/allotment blog in Kent, England - nice harvest:). if you are ever in seattle - come and see us, it's pretty all year round here, in the japanese garden:)