Japan is commonly known as a country of innovation and natural beauty. Some of today’s most popular cultural objects are Japanese. Westerns can’t get enough J-pop, karaoke, manga, anime, sake and sushi.
And now, Japan has established what is arguably the greatest public holiday ever – Mountain Day, set aside as an “opportunity to come close to mountains and appreciate the benefits of mountains.”Japanese mountain-related clubs like the Alpine Club lobbied for the holiday, and in 2014, the Japanese Diet passed the bill. The first Mountain Day took place August 11, 2016.
With the advent of the new holiday, the Japanese government is prioritizing its citizens’ health. The Japanese work incredibly long work weeks and take an average of less than nine days off per year. Suicide rates are high, about 60 percent higher than the global average.
Another cultural value motivating the new holiday is Shinto, the largest religion in Japan. According to Shinto tradition, Kami (Shinto gods) dwell in objects of the natural world like lakes, rivers and mountains. On Mountain Day, the Japanese are encouraged to spend time with family and friends in nature.
Maybe we can benefit from Japan’s forward-thinking and unplug, really take a break from the everyday to be with loved ones in nature.
Featured photo credit: David Hsu via flickr.com