Japan observes new holiday

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Okinawa

Japan will observe the newly-established national holiday, Yama-no-hi (Mountain Day), on Aug. 11 for the first time.

This is the first new holiday since Showa Day was legislated in 2005. With the request of the Japanese Alpine Club and various other groups, lawmakers launched the League of Congressmen for Legislating Mountain Day in April 2013. After a year of a selecting and drafting process, the bill was finally legislated in May of 2014.

The National Holiday Act defines it as a holiday to familiarize people with mountains and appreciate the blessings of them. No official celebration is scheduled for the day.

Mountains play a large role in Japanese culture, as 8.6 million people climb every year, according to the Japan Productivity Center (2012).

The roughly 15,000 mountains account for about 70 percent of the Japanese archipelago, according to the Japanese Alpine Club.

The first Sunday of June was a strong candidate, but Aug. 11 was chosen as it is just before the traditional Obon period (Aug. 13-15), allowing people to take longer leave - something the government has been pushing the hard-working people of Japan to do.

Mountain Day increases the total number of Japan’s national holidays to 16, and makes June only the month without a holiday.

While the local Japanese base employees adhere to the American holiday schedule, they have been entitled to take off on year-end and New Year’s holidays (Dec. 29 – Jan. 3), and the newly introduced Mountain Day in accordance with their master labor contract. That number will rise again when individual birthdays are added in April 2018, and Ocean Day goes into effect in 2020.

takiguchi.takahiro@stripes.com

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