Ain’t no mountain high enough to keep people from celebrating Mountain Day in Japan. The day is a natural fit because of Japan’s hilly and mountainous terrain. This fairly new holiday which takes place annually on August 11, reminds us to see mountains as natural sanctuaries of peace. Mountain Day encourages everyone, especially those who are boxed into the flatlands of dense, urban centers; to use the day exploring nature and taking in wondrous views while breathing deeply of fresh, mountain air. Pondering the blessings that mountains offer is reflective of Shintoism, the dominant religious practice in Japan.
When is Mountain Day 2023?
Japan’s dramatic terrains featuring volcanoes, hot springs, and mountains are a sight to behold and be celebrated on Mountain Day on August 11.
History of Mountain Day
Japan is well ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to its lifestyle and technological advancements. But despite their peak urbanization, Japanese people are quite grounded in their roots and perceive themselves as being more connected to nature than other developed nations.
The planning of Japan’s dense cities and its culture developed on the flat land found near the sea, but that’s only one part of the country’s extraordinary landscapes. Hikers, trekkers, and activist groups, like the Japanese Alpine Club, advocated for the cause to have a Mountain Day to celebrate the country’s mountainous geography.
In 2014, the idea for Mountain Day or ‘Yama-no-Hi’ was conceived and, in 2016, the day became Japan’s latest public holiday. August 11 was established as the day for the holiday’s observance because, in the Chinese characters used for writing Japanese — Kanji, the number eight resembles a mountain and the number 11 resembles two trees.
There weren’t many traditional activities or ceremonies for the inception of Mountain Day in Japan. The inauguration ceremony took place in the Japanese Alps at Kamikochi in Matsumoto, Nagano. The day is celebrated on August 11 but, if the date falls on a Sunday, the holiday will be observed on the following Monday.
Mountain Day timeline
Mountain Day, known as 'Yama-no-Hi' in Japanese, is officially announced as a public holiday — bringing the total number of public holidays in Japan to 16.
Mountain Day, a holiday promoting love for Japan's mountains, takes place after persistent campaigns by various mountain-related groups.
Since Mountain Day was initiated there has traditionally been no official ceremonies marking the day — this changes, with the first National Ceremony for Mountain Day taking place in the Japanese Alps.
The date of Mountain Day is set on August 9 to coincide with the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.
Traditions of Day
As Mountain Day is a relatively new holiday, there aren’t many traditions associated with it. The inaugural National Ceremony for Mountain Day was held in the Japanese Alps at Kamikochi in Matsumoto, Nagano.
The holiday is building traction, with some people who are still not aware of it. Hiking is a popular activity on the day, with senior citizens being partial towards hill-walking. Many people plan a trip to the mountains as a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the cities.
Mountain Day FAQs
What day is National Mountain Day?
National Mountain Day is observed in Japan on August 11. The holiday is not to be confused with International Mountain Day, which is celebrated on December 11.
Why do we celebrate Mountain Day?
The people of Japan celebrate Mountain Day to savor the country’s natural beauty and the fact that its development has been reliant on and molded around mountains.
What is Greenery Day in Japan?
Japan celebrates Greenery Day to commemorate the birthday of Emperor Shōwa, which was celebrated on April 29 every year during the Shōwa era (1926–1989).
Mountain Day Activities
Take a spin on your mountain bike
Whenever we think of mountains, we only seem to consider hiking or climbing them. But there's another scenic way to take in the splendors of mountain vistas — mountain biking. Just make sure to get your bike checked out thoroughly before you head out and don't forget your helmet!
Sure, it's important to get your exercise when you visit mountainous areas. But if you're not the most in-shape person around, consider just packing up some gear and camp out near the base of a mountain. You get the same benefit of refreshing mountain air and beautiful, starry nights without the wear and tear on your body. Once you settle in, collect your bestie and take a nice, long walk.
Walk, hike and climb
For those who consider themselves die-hards, there's nothing better than gearing up for a daylong walk, hike or climb up a mountain. Bring your camera because you don't want to miss a thing but be careful and don't get too close to the edge. If you're lucky enough to get all the way to the summit, sit and bask in the stillness and the vision of peace from on high.
3 Reasons Why Japan's Mt. Fuji Captures Our Imagination
It's more than a mountain — it's a volcano
In fact, Mt. Fuji consists of three active, separate volcanoes: Komitake at the base, Kofuji dominating the middle and Fuji at its peak.
It was off limits to women climbers until 1868
Due to Mt. Fuji's religious significance, women were banned from climbing the mountain until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Later, Lady Fanny Parkes became the first western woman to get to the summit the following year.
It's surrounded by lakes
There are five lakes surrounding Mt. Fuji at approximately 1,000 feet above sea level with wondrous views of this iconic, Japanese symbol.
Why We Love Mountain Day
Mountain lovers fought for it
Various mountain groups pushed hard for an official day to cast work aside and head to the mountains for fun and exercise. Additionally, the Japanese government saw the holiday as a boost to the economy — a win-win all around. With its rocky terrain, Japan promotes Mountain Day on August 11 as a natural fit for groups seeking the serenity of the region's various mountains. Mountain Day devotees also believe that the written numerical characters for 11 resemble either a mountain top or two trees.
It's an excuse to climb Mt. Fuji
Mt. Fuji is Japan's most famous mountain and Mountain Day is sandwiched in between Mt. Fuji's climbing season, from the beginning of July until the beginning of September. That's an ideal time for the approximately 300,000 annual hikers and mountain climbers to pay homage. At that time, there's no trace of snow on the trails and the weather is balmy.
Japanese mountains are sacred spaces
Japan has three holy mountains — Mt. Tate, Mt. Haku and of course, Mt. Fuji. This mountain was first climbed by a monk in 663 A.D. Mountains have long been places of meditation and worship by Shintoists since the seventh century.
Mountain Day dates