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Birthdays in the Edo Period

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Other Title
  • 近世における誕生日 : 将軍から庶民まで そのあり方と意識
  • キンセイ ニ オケル タンジョウビ ショウグン カラ ショミン マデ ソノ アリカタ ト イシキ

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It has been thought that there was no custom of celebrating birthdays in Japan before the modern ages. The Japanese had aged by one all together at the New Year. Therefore, it has been thought the custom of cerebrating birthdays was imported from Western countries after Japan became modern. There is little research on the birthdays. However, the birthdays of the Emperors and the Shoguns (generals) etc. were celebrated in Japan. The festive events on the birthday were held in the Nara period old.To make the actualities in the Edo period clear, I examined how people celebrated the birthdays and the meaning of birthdays for them in this research.In the celebration of Shogun's birthday, mochi (rice cake) and sake were distributed to the followers who came to Edo castle. Celebration of Shogun's birthday was regarded as etiquette to make the master and men relation firm.The birthday was like a festival for the Court nobles. Nobles held their own birthday parties magnificently. The feast was held among the family and friends.Emperors even celebrated the same day as the birthday every month.The lower class samurai and the common people celebrated their children's and grandchildren's birthdays. They dedicated sekihan (rice steamed with red bean) to the gods and had a meal with the relatives and neighbors.On the birthday, mochi and sake were served and red beans were eaten as the charm against evil. The faith in gods and Buddha took an important role in the event of the birthday. People were pleased at peaceful days and wished they will be healthy in the future.People considered the day when themselves, the family and the friends were born a special day. There was a concept of celebrating the birthday that came round once a year. It was individual happy anniversary in the Edo period. There was a custom of doing some festive events on this day in all hierarchies.



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