Celebrate: Umi no Hi (Marine Day)

Readers in the southern hemisphere, beware. I’m coming. And I’m bringing my winter woollies with me. Good GRIEF is it hot here lately. I could certainly do with a romp in the snow.

Yes, summer is in full swing it seems. Though this year’s rainy season was predicted to be heavier in July, we seem to have bypassed the days of daily showers and we’re now into the hot and humid hours of mid-summer. Earlier this week, it hit 95 degrees (Fahrenheit). I am SO not mentally prepared for this yet.

Perhaps it’s rather fitting then that we have chosen to escape to the coast for this three-day holiday weekend, seeing as how today is technically Marine Day. (While some may translate the name as “Ocean Day”, it seems that Marine Day is more widely accepted by official sources.) How did this holiday come about? As with many of Japan’s “official holidays”, it’s a relatively new creation, only put on the calendars back in 1995 due to the fact that there were no real breaks of any sort between Golden Week and the government holidays of late September. As for the name, well, summer means beach, beach means ocean, most Japanese don’t go to the beach until the start of the official swimming season in the first week of July … it only seems fitting to have a water-themed holiday in the high heat of summer.

Interestingly enough, however, I did stumble across another theory for the holiday. Some posit that it actually commemorates an event in 1876, the return of Emperor Meiji by ship from the island of Hokkaido (at that time pretty much considered the final frontier of Japan) to the port of Yokohama. Allegedly, there is a stone monument in Hakodate (Hokkaido’s southernmost city and a main port in its own right) to mark the Emperor’s arrival, but details are sketchy on the voyage and its connections to the current holiday are slim.

So how are we celebrating? Well, we motored our way across the mountains to Miyazaki Prefecture this weekend and up the Nichinan Coast. With its fresh mangoes and waving palm trees, it definitely felt like we were back on northern Okinawa island. To our east, we were treated to continuous sea views … the perfect way to mark this holiday. I’m sure more about our trip to Miyazaki will show up on the blog at some point but for now, here’s a photo from our adventure.

The Miyazaki coast, as seen from the Udo Shrine
The Miyazaki coast, as seen from the Udo Shrine

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