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Head into nature to enjoy the beauty and appreciate everything it has to offer on Mountain Day!

History of Mountain Day

Enacted on May 23, 2014, officials in Japan announced that they would celebrate and promote Mountain Day as a public holiday in the country. The purpose and idea behind the day is a simple one: get to know and appreciate the mountains and the blessings that come from them.

The law was put into action in 2014 but wasn’t actually enforced until 2016. For the years prior to the bill entering into law, it was a grassroots movement of mountain and outdoor supporters, as well as the Japanese Alpine Group, who lobbied to make the day into reality. A National Ceremony for Mountain Day that happened in the Japanese Alps at Kamikochi in Matsumoto, Nagao on the first celebration of the day.

An important argument for the bill was that the Shinto beliefs, which have deeply shaped the culture of the Japanese people, teach that mountains and peaks should be celebrated as an important part of nature.

And since approximately 70% of the landmass of the country of Japan is made up of mountainous areas, honoring Mountain Day seems like a fitting tribute for such a place. The highest and perhaps most recognizable mountain in Japan is Mount Fuji, which comes in at 3,776 meters at its peak, and is one of the country’s three “holy mountains”.

Because the day, August 11, had already been set aside by various local authorities, it was decided that it would remain the day. But even the date is fitting and appropriate as many people have noticed that the number 8 (for August), when written in Japanese, resembles a mountain, and the number 11 resembles two trees.

Mountain Day Timeline

1992

Sustainable Mountain Development adopted by UN

As part of the Conference on Environment and Development, the United Nations adds documents for managing the mountains as a fragile ecosystem.[1]

1996

Mount Everest disaster occurs 

A storm kills eight climbers in the mountain’s deadliest season to date. Several survivors will write their memoirs about the occasion.[2]

2003

United Nations declares International Mountain Day 

Working toward a healthier earth, the UN founds International Mountain Day on December 11.[3]

2014

Mountain Day announced in Japan 

After lobbying by the Japanese Alpine Club and others, Mountain Day or “Yama-no-Hi” is declared as a national holiday, though it has been unofficially celebrated for many years.[4]

2016

Mountain Day enacted in Japan 

The previously announced Mountain Day becomes law in Japan and is first officially celebrated this year.[5]

How to Celebrate Mountain Day

Enjoy the observance and celebration of Mountain Day by taking advantage of opportunities to appreciate mountains and get out into nature. Try out some of these ideas for celebrating Mountain Day:

Head to the Mountains

Those who enjoy everything about the mountains can grab a group of friends and get to climbing! Whether your skills are novice or expert, this is the day to practice and improve them. Maybe it’s just a short hike for a half day, or perhaps it’s a week of backpacking through rough terrain and scaling seemingly insurmountable walls. Whatever is fun for Mountain Day is what matters!

And for those who may not feel much like climbing? Well, they can just head to the foothills and appreciate the view while on a drive or enjoying a picnic on the scenic route.

Perhaps it’s the Rocky Mountains, the Himalayas, the Andes, or the Alps, every continent on the planet has its own mountain ranges that bring texture to the landscape. So consider Mountain Day the perfect time to celebrate these unique and wonderful aspects of nature.

Enjoy a Film About the Mountains

If this happens to be a work day, or you live far away and there’s no time to actually get to the mountains, perhaps a good way to spend the day might be to channel that inner mountain climber and watch a story about the mountains and nature instead. Check out some of these movies that might aid in the celebration of Mountain Day:

  • Everest (2015). This film was based on the true story of adventure and survival that happened in May 1996 during a climb that was attempted on the summit of Mount Everest. At the time it was the deadliest climbing season of Mount Everest in history, with eight climbers dying over two days.
  • Into the Wild (2007). Another biographical adventure film, this screenplay was written and directed by Sean Penn, based on the 1996 non-fiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer. It tells the story of Christopher McCandless who travels alone into the wilderness.
  • Meru (2015). This documentary chronicles the first ascent of a particularly challenging route, the Shark’s Fin, which is a 4000 foot wall that exists in Meru Peak in the Himalayas of India.
  • The Climb (2017). A light-hearted look at mountain climbing, this French comedy adventure film tells the real-life story of a man who says he would climb Mount Everest for the woman he loves.

Visit Japan’s Mountains

Perhaps the ultimate way to celebrate Mountain Day would be to head to Japan to visit this beautiful mountainous countryside. In addition to Mount Fuji, the other two of the Three Holy Mountains include Mount Tateyama and Mount Haku. But that is only the beginning, because there are more than 18,000 other mountains in the country of Japan. The beauty of the landscape and the opportunities to enjoy nature seem almost endless in this small, archipelago country.

Make a Donation for Sustainable Mountains

In an effort to allay the damage that has been done to mountains through sports, tourism and human development, some charities have been created to help. Making a donation to a charity that supports the sustainability of mountains is a great way to celebrate and be involved with Mountain Day, no matter where in the world you are:

  • Sustainable Mountain Alliance. This organization is committed to measuring, protecting and regenerating the natural mountainous environment by the reduction of carbon emissions as well as the negative impact of human activity.
  • International Partnership for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions. Also known as Mountain Partnership, this non-profit organization is a voluntary alliance of various partners and members that are dedicated to the improvement and well being of the livelihoods of mountain people, as well as protecting and stewarding mountain environments all around the globe.
  • Kilian Jornet Foundation. A charity dedicated to the preservation of the mountain environment, this organization was created by Kilian Jornet, a young Catalan mountain climber and famous mountain athlete.
  • Run for Good. The ISPO global system for ecosports is particularly committed to raising funds that help to sustainability for the mountains as a vital part of the ecosystem. The efforts are to conserve, manage, protect, and preserve the natural mountain environment.

Mountain Day FAQs

What is the tallest mountain in the world?

The tallest mountain above sea level is Mount Everest, located in the Himalayan mountain range between Nepal and Tibet.[1]

Where are the Rocky Mountains?

The Rocky Mountain range is located in the western portion of North America, in the US states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, New Mexico and Montana, as well as Canadian British Columbia and Alberta.[2]

How are mountains formed?

The tallest mountain ranges on earth were likely formed when pieces of the earth’s crust bump against each other in a process called plate tectonics.[3]

What is mountain time?

Mountain Standard Time is a zone in North America, which is seven hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The time changes twice yearly due to Daylight Savings, making it 6 hours behind UTC.[4]

How mountainous is Japan?

Japan’s archipelago consists of approximately 70% mountainous terrain.[5]

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