Mountain Day – Japan

10 August 2020

Mountain Day (山の日) is the newest of Japan’s public holidays, the first instance being in 2016. The legislation states that Mountain Day is intended is to provide “opportunities to get familiar with mountains and appreciate blessings from mountains”.

The holiday was established after the Japanese Alpine Club and other groups lobbied for the bill, arguing that Japan, where Shinto beliefs in nature have shaped the culture, should celebrate its peaks and mountains. This is fitting as around 70% of the landmass of Japan is mountainous, and activities such as hiking and skiing are popular.

The inaugural National Ceremony for Mountain Day was held in the Japanese Alps at Kamikochi in Matsumoto, Nagano.

This year the holiday is observed on August 10, initially intended to coincide with the day after the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games but is traditionally celebrated each year on the eleventh day of the eighth month. Many see symbolism in the August 11 date, as the Japanese character for 8 resembles the sides of a mountain, and the numeral 11 looks like two trees.

Japan’s topography has been sculpted by millions of years of tectonic activity. The result is one of the world’s most stunning collections of peaks, which includes over 100 active volcanoes.

Although, as a recently introduced holiday, there is no particular traditional ceremony associated with it, Mountain Day is the perfect day to go hiking or trekking in Japan’s scenic mountain landscape. Many celebrate by visiting one of Japan’s many peaks and enjoying a quiet hike in nature or admiring their silent beauty from afar.

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