There are quite a few summer holidays celebrated in Japan, such as Tanabata, but Sea Day is arguably one of the most significant and most environmentally friendly national holidays. Sea Day (海の日 Umi no Hi), otherwise known as Ocean Day or Marine Day, is celebrated every third Monday in July. This holiday celebrates the ocean and all the ocean’s gifts, while also acknowledging marine environment issues.
History of Sea Day
Sea Day was established as a holiday in 1941 to honor the return of the Meiji Emperor after touring around the Tohaku and Hokkaido regions in 1876. For this journey, the Japanese government commissioned an iron ship to be built in Scotland. In fact this ship, the Meiji-Maru , is now the oldest iron ship in Japan.
However, Sea Day only became a national holiday in 1996 thanks to several organizations dedicated to ocean conservation. While Sea Day was originally celebrated on July 20th, the Happy Monday System (ハッピーマンデー制度) changed it to every third Monday in July. The Happy Monday System changed holiday dates to give three-day weekends for workers.
Celebrating Sea Day
Thanks to the three-day weekend, most people flock to beaches, aquariums, and all the different events on this day. From water shows to making paper lanterns to watersport competitions, tons of events take place on Sea Day.
Since it’s in mid-July, it’s also the perfect time for a day out to the beach! Places like Odaiba Maritime Park are super popular because of the beautiful arrangements of paper lanterns they place on the beach! Recently there have been great strides to creating more environmental awareness on this day. For instance there is a mudball-throwing event, except this is a special mud that is able to clean up filth on the beach!
Significance of Sea Day
While most people celebrate Sea Day by playing around on the beach or relaxing, this day symbolizes much more than just a beach day. The sea and all its bounties are a large source of Japanese exports. The Japanese economy undoubtedly relies on the ocean. More than 15% of the world's fishes come from Japan. Furthermore, being an island, the ocean inevitably dictates a huge part of Japanese life. It signifies national security and also cultural security. Ocean Day is not just a day off, but a day to reflect on all the influences, gifts, and cultural traditions established by and from the ocean.
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