Mountain Day is a new Japanese holiday that allows Japanese citizens to enjoy nature and spend some time with their family members and friends.
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This holiday has strong ties to nature and Shintoism. To celebrate Mountain Day, Japanese people of all ages go to rural mountainous areas across Japan. This is a Japanese public holiday that allows people to enjoy a break from work while spending time in the mountains with friends and family members.
While Mountain Day is a new holiday, it has an interesting history that led to its creation.
Celebration in the United States
The earliest celebration of a modern Mountain Day can be dated back to 1838 in the United States. In 1838, the administrators of Mount Holyoke College decided that students needed an event that would allow them to eliminate stress. They decided that an annual trip to the nearby Holyoke Mountain would be the perfect opportunity for students in need of a break from their studies.
UN International Mountain Day
The creators of Japan’s new holiday may have also been inspired by the United Nations’ International Mountain Day. International Mountain Day is a celebration that is observed by mountainous communities across the globe. Unlike Japan’s Mountain Day, International Mountain Day is oriented around themes like development and the empowerment of indigenous communities. International Mountain Day also encourages a general appreciation for nature.
2014: Japanese Mountain Day is Born
In 2014, Mountain Day was planned by the Japanese Diet to become a public holiday. The holiday would be first celebrated in 2016 on August 11th. After its inaugural celebration, Mountain Day would be celebrated on the same day every year. If you’re familiar with politics, you likely know that unanimous decisions are rare. This was not the case when the Japanese Diet met to discuss making Mountain Day a public holiday in Japan. All of Japan’s major political parties supported the holiday and agreed that it would serve the best interests of Japanese citizens. The holiday was unsurprisingly supported by the Japanese Alpine Club. The addition of Mountain Day brought the total number of Japanese public holiday to 16. Japan now has the largest number of holidays among the world’s leading industrial nations.
Shintoism in Japan
Mountain Day has close ties to Shintoism, the cultural religion of ancient and modern Japan. Shintoism remains a dominant religion in Japan today. In fact, over 80 percent of the Japanese people claim to follow Shinto beliefs. Shinto, or the way of the gods, is a religion that is based on nature and the world in which people live. According to Shinto beliefs, every single object in the world can possess energy or a soul. More importantly, Kami, or Shinto gods, reside in natural objects like rivers, oceans, trees, and mountains. This relationship between Kami and natural objects may have been the reason for numerous political parties’ support of Mountain Day.
Why is Mountain Day a Holiday?
Aside from connections to nature and Shintoism, the Japanese Diet decided to make Mountain Day a public holiday because the citizens of Japan tend to work themselves to exhaustion. Among people in all of the major industrialized nations, the people of Japan have the longest work weeks. In many cases, this is purely do people’s desire to make more money and complete tasks. On average, Japanese people enjoy less than nine days of leave each year. This has resulted in poor health and high suicide rates. The Japanese government planned Mountain Day as a way of fighting the harmful effects of overworking. Mountain Day will also give families an opportunity to bond. The government aims to use Mountain Day to expose children to nature.