November 3, is Culture Day (Bunka no hi 文化の日) a national holiday in Japan. This holiday was first held in 1948, to commemorate the announcement of the post-war Japanese constitution on November 3, 1946. The purpose of this holiday is to promote culture, the arts, and academic endeavors. As Culture Day exists to promote the arts and various fields of academic endeavor, local and prefectural governments typically choose this day to hold art exhibits, culture festivals, and parades.
Every year on this day the Emperor of Japan hands out Bunka Kunsho (Order of Culture - the highest rank of Culture Award) to a few people who devoted their lives to promoting Japanese culture or higher achievements in academic fields. The Order of Culture award was established on February 11, 1937. Many other awards are also given to thousands of people who made distinguished contributions to Japanese society. Many institutions of higher education such as Japanese universities and high schools hold Culture Day to display their research projects, hold debate sessions, etc.
Prior to being Culture day, November 3 was called Tenchōsetsu. Tenchōsetsu was first celebrated as a national holiday in 1868 (before the calendar was changed to Gregorian was September 22), in honor of the Meiji Emperor. With the death of the Meiji Emperor in 1912, November 3 ceased to be a holiday until 1927, when his birthday was given its own specific holiday, known as Meiji-setsu.
This day was a religious holiday from the early Meiji era to just after World War II. The ceremony performed at the Three Sacred Halls (kyūchū sanden) is called the tenchōsai, or Rite for the Longevity of Heaven and Earth. On the day of the celebration, the tenchōsai was performed in the Three Sacred Halls, and the Rituals for the Day of Celebration for the Longevity of Heaven and Earth (tenchōsetsu no gi) was performed at the palace. The emperor received felicitations from the imperial family then goes to the Toyo-no-akari Hall where he received felicitations from high-level ministers and ambassadors or representatives from each country. Following this, there was a celebratory banquet.