Last June, we brought you news of whisperings in Tochigi Prefecture about the proposed creation of a new public holiday, which was to be known as Yama no Hi, or Mountain Day. Since then we have heard little more on the subject, but the good news is that, although the plans may have changed a little, the Diet is now considering a bill to make the national holiday a reality, meaning everyone may soon get an extra day off every August 11.
It’s true that Japan’s workforce spends frighteningly long hours at work – which is often unpaid – and taking more than a few days’ personal holiday at any one time can be difficult to impossible, but the people of Japan are mercifully blessed with a considerable number of public holidays each year.
There are currently 15 official public holidays per year in Japan, plus a number of days that companies traditionally close, such as over the New Year period and during Obon, wherein families get together both to eat and drink and observe the traditional Buddhist beliefs that the souls of their deceased relatives briefly return to earth during that time.
This year’s holidays currently stand thus (some observed later than listed):
January 1: New Year’s Day January 13: Coming-of-Age Day February 11: Foundation Day March 21: Vernal Equinox Day April 29: Showa Day May 3: Constitution Memorial Day May 4: Greenery Day May 5: Children’s Day July 21: Marine Day September 15: Respect-for-the-Aged Day September 23: Autumnal Equinox Day October 13: Health and Sports Day November 3: Culture Day November 23: Labor Thanksgiving Day December 23: Emperor’s Birthday
But while the sea, trees, old folks and even kiddies are officially observed each year, there is a distinct lack of respect for mountains on the calendar, which is actually rather odd considering that roughly 73% of Japan is covered by them, and when asked to list things they consider synonymous with Japan most people mention Mount Fuji.
During council meetings held in Tokyo last week, however, it was agreed that a bill would be officially put forward to make August 11 a public holiday, with the aim of encouraging the people of Japan to make the most of the warm weather and, during their Obon observations, step into the countryside to enjoy a mountain hike or two.
If the bill is passed, it should come into effect from Jan 1, 2016.
Source: Livedoor News
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