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Special Day and Regular Day: “HARE” and “KE”

In the old days, Kyoto residents made a clear distinction between special days and regular days as in “Hare no hi (晴れの日)” and “Ke no hi (ケの日)”. Hare no hi are the dates on which people have special occasions such as festivals or seasonal events, whereas Ke no hi are just regular days without any special events. On Hare no hi, people celebrate the occasion dressed up in gorgeous Kimono (着物) and enjoy sacred foods such as Mochi (餅, rice cakes) or Sekihan (赤飯, festive red rice). By contrast, people live their lives, conduct their businesses, as usual on Ke no hi. Hare and Ke are however, two sides of the same coin.

In a time when Kimono were commonplace, there must have been an important way of distinguishing the occasions. Something more subtle than our many clothing choices today like relaxed outfits for home, suits for work, or lovely dresses for going out.

Dress codes in Japan for both Hare and Ke were decided according to three criteria, namely: when, where, and who you are. We, Japanese people, still treasure this thoughtful manner, especially in the world of Kimono culture.

There are only a few days left in 2017 and I wish a prosperous new year to all of my readers. Please have a very happy New Year’s celebration!



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