In June last year, we brought you news of whisperings in Japan’s 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, parliament 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: Labour Thanksgiving Day
December 23: The 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 yesterday, 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 January 1, 2016. Which means that for the next two Augusts you’re free to ignore the enormous mountains standing all around you and carry on as normal, but at least Japan’s overworked salarymen have another 24 hours’ rest to look forward to when they next catch a glimpse of their own pallid faces in their computer screens at 10pm on a Wednesday evening.

Source: Livedoor News
Top image: Wikimedia