Last year, as far as I could tell, the public holiday on the 11th of August was pretty much designed so as everyone could, a) have an extra day away from the office, and b) sit around thinking about how totally rad mountains are.
That’s about as much thought as I gave it but there must be a more legit reason, right?
It’s no secret that the Japanese workforce tends not to take all of the leave they’re owed. Perhaps that goes some way to explaining the push to ensure the nation now has 16 public holidays (Sri Lanka has the most public holidays on Earth with 25).
Around this same time last year, when Mountain Day was first celebrated (although made official in 2014, it was 2016 when it became an actual public holiday), The Japan Times suggested that the new holiday could be responsible for billions in spending (let’s be honest, that article was always going to include the pun “sales peak”).
Perhaps there’s even some clever biscuits out there thinking that if Japan gets more public holidays and people spend more time at home, that’s a whole lot more time for baby-making – something the country could perhaps benefit from.
Why the 11th of August?
Why not? The kanji for the number “8”, 八, kind of looks like a mountain, plus there’s no other public holidays in August. Also, some places within Japan were already using this apparently arbitrary date to celebrate the existence of mountains.
Japan is known for it’s volatile landscape and when tectonic plates meet, they have a habit of pushing up mountains. So, why not have a public holiday for it..??
Does this mean that people who don’t normally go hiking will make Mountain Day the one day they do? Probably not.
Either way, mountains are pretty cool, right?
…And the next public holiday on the Japanese calendar? September’s Respect for the Aged Day. Personally, I think each of those sounds like a nice reason for a public holiday, and certainly far more reasonable than Easter…
Happy Mountain Day!