Mountain Day is an annual public holiday in Japan celebrated on every 11th August. This year in 2023, Google celebrates the holiday’s of appreciating Japan’s dramatic mountain landscapes in Google Doodle. This article explores the origins, significance, activities, and reasons to celebrate Mountain Day 2023 in Japan.
Key Takeaways about Mountain Day
- Annual public holiday in Japan on 11th August
- Originated in 2014 to celebrate Japan’s mountains which cover 70% of land
- August 11 date chosen because 8 and 11 resemble “mountain” and “trees”
- Chance to appreciate cultural and natural significance of mountains
- Mt. Fuji is iconic, but Japan has many notable peaks and volcanoes
- Activities: hiking, camping, onsens, viewing mountain scenery
- Aligns with spiritual mountain traditions in Shintoism and Buddhism
- Promotes reconnecting with nature and escaping urban areas
- No historical customs yet, but festivals and events are emerging
- Experience mountains through cuisine, photography, and adventure sports
- Reminder of recreation, tranquility, and majesty mountains provide
When Did Mountain Day Originate in Japan?
Mountain Day originated in 2014 after advocacy from mountain-related organizations in Japan. The groups wanted a day to celebrate the country’s plentiful mountains, which cover around 70% of Japan’s landmass. August 11th was established as the date for Mountain Day likely because the kanji (Chinese characters) for 8 and 11 resemble “mountain” and “trees” respectively.
The first official Mountain Day took place on 11th August, 2016 after it became an official public holiday. The inauguration ceremony occurred in the picturesque Japanese Alps. Mountain Day is now celebrated annually, giving people a chance to appreciate Japan’s 12,000+ peaks.
What is the Significance of Mountains in Japanese Culture?
Mountains hold deep cultural and religious significance in Japan. They are considered sacred spaces for meditation and worship in Shintoism. Mount Fuji in particular has been revered by the Japanese for centuries. Up until 1868, women were actually banned from climbing it due to religious beliefs.
Beyond spirituality, Japan’s mountainous terrain shaped the development of its cities that emerged on flat land near the sea. Mountains have literally formed the backdrop for Japanese art, poetry, and folklore throughout history as well.
What Activities Can You Do on Mountain Day 2023?
Since Mountain Day is still a new holiday, there are no established long-standing traditions yet. However, many people like to spend the day appreciating mountains through various activities:
- Hiking, trekking, and climbing mountains
- Visiting Mount Fuji during its July-September climbing season
- Mountain biking along scenic trails and roads
- Camping at mountain base camps
- Relaxing in natural hot springs heated by volcanoes
- Painting or photographing mountain landscapes
- Trying mountain-area cuisine like alpine vegetables
- Attending mountain-related festivals or ceremonies
The activities allow urban residents to reconnect with Japan’s beautiful natural landscapes.
What are Some Notable Mountains in Japan?
Japan contains many breathtaking and unique mountains worth exploring on Mountain Day:
- Highest mountain in Japan at 12,388 ft
- Visible from Tokyo on clear days
- Composite volcano with 8 peaks
- One of Japan’s three holy mountains with spiritual significance
- Located in the Northern Japan Alps
- Known for autumn foliage colors
- Another holy mountain of Japan towering at 10,462 ft
- Features pristine crater lake Chōzendake
- Part of Joshin’etsukogen National Park
- Ski and onsen resort area with active volcanoes
- Home to the famous “Snow Monsters” in winter
- Has one of Japan’s largest volcanic caldera craters
Why is Mountain Day Important for Japan?
There are several key reasons Mountain Day resonates in Japan:
- It promotes appreciation of Japan’s unique natural landscapes and beauty. The dramatic mountain vistas and volcanoes are iconic symbols of Japan.
- It provides an opportunity to celebrate mountains that shaped Japanese history and culture. Mountains are embedded in the Japanese identity.
- It encourages urban residents to reconnect with nature and escape crowded cities through mountain activities.
- It aligns with the spiritual and religious significance of mountains in Japanese culture. Mountains are sacred spaces.
- It boosts tourism in Japan’s mountain areas and supports local economies.
- It reminds people of the recreation, adventure, and tranquility that mountains offer.
What Questions Do People Ask About Mountain Day 2023?
Here are some common questions about Mountain Day in Japan:
1. When exactly is Mountain Day each year?
Mountain Day is always 11th August annually unless that falls on a Sunday. Then it is observed the following Monday instead.
2. How did Mountain Day become a holiday?
After advocacy by hiking groups, it became an official public holiday in 2014 and was first celebrated in 2016.
3. Are there special Mountain Day events or customs?
Some climbing events are often organized on Mountain Day due to the holiday’s focus on appreciation of mountains.
4. What do people eat on Mountain Day?
There are no specific dishes, but people enjoy mountain vegetables and region-specific cuisine. Bento boxes are a popular portable meal.
5. Where should I travel in Japan for Mountain Day 2023?
Mount Fuji and the Japanese Alps are prime spots. But exploring any local mountains or nature areas also works for the holiday!
6. Does Mountain Day affect airport and train schedules?
No major changes, but some increased frequency to accommodate mountain travelers. Check schedules to be sure.
Appreciate Japan’s Natural Wonders on Mountain Day
In conclusion, Mountain Day on 11th August provides an opportunity for the Japanese to appreciate the natural beauty and importance of the country’s ample mountains. The holiday originated recently in 2014, but has quickly gained popularity. While there are no established traditions yet, people celebrate by hiking, trekking, camping, visiting hot springs, and partaking in other mountain activities. The holiday reminds Japanese citizens and tourists alike to marvel at Japan’s scenic landscapes.