I think it's just called "Grandparents' Day" in the U.S., but here in Japan they actually get a whole day off of work, making a Monday holiday and three-day weekend. (Except for our school, which has a Back to School Day so we can meet the parents.)
I guess all the other 364 days you don't have to respect the aged? No, no. Don't worry, it's Japan.
And since Japan has a declining population (a top-heavy elderly demographic rate alongside a decreasing birth rate) perhaps this day will becoming more and more popular?
Other random observations:
- My roommate works at a karaoke bar part-time, and this weekend he saw multi-generational groups coming in. (Each group of patrons get their own closet-slash-room for karaoke, as opposed to the open mic night found in most Western bars.) The dads and moms ordered gin tonics and wine cocktails, the grandmas the green tea, and the little ones the orange juice.
- I have seen a special apron in the 100-yen Store that is marketed as a bathing apron for when you bathe your grandparent (or maybe that might be your in-law?)
- Tokyo is a 'walking city', with all the stores and homes and suburbs spread out around the public transport-- and no matter how much public transport there is, the sheer number of people requires an urban sprawl. You will often see the grandmas and grandpas, a bit smaller and more hunched from age and generations of different food and health, shuffling through the sprawl with patience and tenacity. They sometimes remind me of the old Hare and Tortoise story as the world rushes past them.
So, oba-chan and ojii-san, omodeto on your special day!