Japan on Thursday celebrates its newest national holiday, “Yama no Hi” (Mountain Day).
Legislation to create the new holiday on August 11 was enacted in the Diet last year. It came after the Japanese Alpine Club and other mountain-related groups lobbied for the bill, claiming that Japan—where Shintoism’s animistic beliefs have shaped the culture—needed to celebrate its mountains.
The legislation states that the day is designed to share “opportunities to get familiar with mountains and appreciate blessings from mountains.”
A large chunk of Japan’s land mass is mountainous, and walking or trekking in the mountains is a popular pastime, particularly among older Japanese. The mountains also offer excellent skiing throughout the winter.
With Mountain Day, Japan now has 16 official holidays a year, the highest tally among the Group of Eight major powers.
Most of Japan’s national holidays celebrate something specific. These include the emperor’s birthday, Children’s Day, Coming-of-Age Day, Constitution Day, National Foundation Day and Marine Day, which is celebrated on the third Monday of July.
June is the only month without a national holiday.