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Mountain Day New Holiday in Japan
May 27, 2014

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Japan has a new national holiday, the country's 16th. It's Mountain Day, and it will be August 11, beginning in 2016.

The holiday officially celebrates Japan's many mountainous regions, and workers are officially instructed to take the day off work. That instruction is what news reports are saying is really behind the holiday, which the reports say is a move by the government to force Japanese workers to stop work for at least a day.

A recent study by the Wall Street Journal found that the average Japanese worker used less than 9 percent of his or her paid vacation days on a yearly basis. Japanese workers often appear in the top tier of results in studies of how many hours a country's workers are on the job each year. Ailments from overwork are so common in Japan that the language has a specific word for work-related ailment: karoshi.

When Mountain Day is officially a holiday, in 2016, June will be the only month in which Japanese workers do not have an official day off. A list of Japan's 15 existing national holidays is below.

  • New Year's Day (January 1) – celebrates the beginning of a new calendar year
  • Coming of Age Day (second Monday in January) – celebrates people who have reached age 20
  • Foundation Day (February 11) – the establishment of the country, commemorating a distant event
  • Vernal Equinox Day (March 20 or thereabouts) – to celebrate nature
  • Showa Day (April 29) – to celebrate the life of Emperor Hirohito, who was known as Showa (the holiday is the day he was born)
  • Constitution Memorial (May 3) – commemorates the date on which the country's modern constitution went into effect
  • Greenery Day (May 4) – to celebrate nature
  • Children's Day (May 5) – to celebrate children and wish for their future happiness
  • Marine Day (third Monday in July) – to celebrate the oceans
  • Respect-for-the-Aged Day (third monday in September) – to celebrate the elderly and long life
  • Autumnal Equinox Day (September 23 or thereabouts) – to honor the dead, especially one's ancestors
  • Health and Sports Day (second Monday in October) – to celebrate and encourage a healthy, active lifestyle
  • Culture Day (November 3) – commemorates the announcement of the country's modern constitution
  • Labor Thanksgiving Day (November 23) – to celebrate working people and to give thanks in general
  • Emperor's Birthday (December 23) – this is the birthday of the current emperor, Akihito.
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