Japan may have an image as an all-work and no-play sort of place, but you’ve got to give the country credit for coming up with Umi no Hi. Observed on the third Monday of July, Umi no Hi literally means “Ocean Day,” but “Marine Day” and “Beach Day” would also be acceptable translations. It’s a national holiday expressly created to give everyone a day off to go have fun at the beach, and it just might be the greatest socially accepted reason ever for blowing off work.

This year, Japan got so into the spirit of the holiday that even people in prefectures with no coastline swore they could smell the sea. But was this just a summery olfactory hallucination, or a legitimate Umi no Hi miracle?

After weeks of surprisingly cool and cloudy conditions, Umi no Hi dawned in spectacularly summery fashion, with blue skies and temperatures climbing to 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit) at the beaches in east Japan. But while revelers hit the sand in Kanagawa and Chiba Prefectures, even Twitter users from inland parts of Tokyo and landlocked Saitama Prefecture reported that they could smell a sweet ocean breeze.

“I stepped out of my house, and it smells like the ocean!”
“Weird. It smells like the ocean outside, but I’m nowhere near the coast.”
“For some reason, it smells like the beach outside. Is it because today’s Umi no Hi?”
“I can smell the sea, but I’m not doing anything summery at all!”
“I’m not at the beach, but I can smell it!”
“We can too! We noticed it as soon as we opened the window, but how come? Did someone in our neighborhood just get back from the beach? Or was a new ocean created nearby?”

Initially, we thought these reports might have just been the results of wishful thinking from residents of beach-less communities who are still waiting for Mountain Day to become a full-fledged holiday. As it turns out, though, there was actually a scientific reason for the aromatic gift from the sea. As explained by Twitter user pani:

“Here’s the current weather map. On the Pacific side, the pressure is high [marked by the kanji 高]. It’s not so low inland, but those nice high pressure zones out over the ocean are pushing a ton of ocean aroma towards Japan.”

This just goes to show that even when you’re lucky enough to have the day off yourself, there are still others working away so you can enjoy some leisure time. So this summer, while you’re at the beach, don’t forget to take a moment to say thanks to all the restaurant staff, public transportation operators, and even the atmospheric conditions that make your summertime fun possible.

UH 2

Source: Jin
Top image: Nikkai Suisan
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