If you love mountains like I do, Japan is the perfect destination for you! It’s great for hikes and treks, and really gives you a great chance to experience nature. Home to the majestic Mount Fuji and the Japanese Alps, the country’s terrain is 75% mountainous with excellent views of nature and delicious local food. But did you know that there is a unique holiday dedicated solely to Japan’s mountains?
Get to know Mountain Day in Japan (山の日）
If you’ve ever lived in Japan, you will notice that they have Greenery Day in May and Marine Day in July. The country definitely holds great respect for nature. Mountain Day or Yama no Hi, which is the youngest national holiday, was made official in 2014 but has only been celebrated since 2016. It was established after the Japanese Alpine Club and other groups argued that Japan due to its Shintoist beliefs rooter in nature should celebrate its peaks and mountains.
Mountain Day is celebrated on August 11. There’s an interesting story behind the choice of this date. It was based on the kanji character of the number eight “八” which looks like a mountain. Of course, 8 in the calendar refers to August and the “11” comes from the kanji’s appearance looking like two trees put together to create the date of this special day. It was well-received by many and is, surprisingly, the only public holiday in August.
How is Mountain Day celebrated?
There is no rule on how to celebrate this special day but as the name suggests, why not grab your hiking shoes and take a trip to your favorite mountain destination? You can even familiarize yourself with the local culture and food by going on a food tour. These activities will surely spice up the holiday with amazing flavors and great conversations. Are you still trying to figure out where to go? We highly recommend the areas around Mount Fuji in Shizuoka and Yamanashi Prefectures. They are loaded with exciting activities perfect for the foodie traveler. Japan’s highest mountain is not just a famous symbol, but every tourist’s dream destination, whether for food or sightseeing.
Go on a Mt. Fuji Local Food Tour
“Food makes travel exceptional”, as the saying goes. Here at Arigato Travel, we let you experience hospitality in one of the most charming cities around Mt. Fuji. You have the option to choose a tour in Fujinomiya, Gotemba or Fuji City–these experiences will immerse you in the local culture and food. Bonus activities await you such as making your own signature tea or cocktails derived from local ingredients. You will also learn about stories and local celebrations from the expert guide while enjoying the magnificent views of Japan’s iconic mountain.
Visit a Green Tea Farm
Shizuoka is known as the green tea capital of Japan because of its excellent location near Mt. Fuji. There are a lot of green tea fields to explore as far as the eye can see. If you want a hands-on experience, there are plantations that allow you to pick tea leaves for yourself. For a small fee, you will be given a basket and a designated area to pick the leaves after a quick lesson on proper picking. Tea leaf-picking is a refreshing outdoor activity, especially for this Mountain Day where you also appreciate nature and local traditions of Shizuoka prefecture.
Join a Sake Brewery Tour
One of the best activities to do near the mountains is to join a Sake Brewery tour. While sake breweries are almost everywhere in Japan, the areas at the foot of Mt. Fuji make your tour even more exciting. Your experience will be rewarded with panoramic views of the mountain.
Most sake tours are conducted in both English and Japanese so that you can be introduced to the history and basics of sake making. Once the tour is over, the highly-anticipated sake tasting gives you a deeper understanding of the Japanese local wine. This activity is a great addition to sightseeing.
Try Camping with a Glamorous Twist
Glamping is gaining popularity all over Japan, and one of the best places to experience it is at the foot of the mountains. Glamping is a newly-coined word derived from glamorous and camping, meaning camping with luxury and comfort while still focusing on outdoor activities.
This activity is perfect for those who are not used to the typical camping style. You are provided with comfortable facilities, bedding, and camping equipment. Some glamping spots around Mt. Fuji come with a BBQ package and breakfast meals. In addition to meals, they offer eco-tours and workcation. The experience is the absolute best for family vacations, retreats, and team-building programs for a change of environment.
A great way to connect with nature is a farm-to-table experience where travelers harvest their own vegetables and have them cooked for dinner. Some restaurants in the nearby areas of Mt. Fuji in both Shizouka and Yamanashi Prefecture offer these fabulous experiences. This area is suitable for vegetable production because of its wonderful climate in summer and clear waters from the mountains. Newly-harvested vegetables are known for their freshness and delicious taste.
Most restaurants have vast farms and a variety of courses to choose from: vegetable picking experience with lunch or dinner or you can leave it at just harvesting. Whatever course you choose from, both activities will definitely make your Mountain Day special and nourish you mentally with magnificent views of nature.
Make your summer vacation a memorable one by celebrating Mountain Day. We should take a pause from our hectic urban lifestyle and celebrate the blessings of the mountains to learn the significance of this national holiday.
Feature photo credit: Marek Piwnicki (@marekpiwnicki) | Unsplash Photo Community
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