Thursday is the first time the Japanese celebrate Yama No Hi—or Mountain Day—a new national holiday meant to encourage people to celebrate Mount Fuji and Japan’s other natural wonders.
The civic holiday was first approved in 2014 although Thursday will be its inaugural celebration. The holiday was enacted to offer “people the opportunity to come close to mountains and appreciate the benefits,” according to event organizers.
In addition to just bringing people outdoors, lawmakers hope that the new holiday will encourage a conversation about the importance of conservation for the Japanese.
“Mountains produce water, a source of life, moisten forests and fields, and grow oceans,” Akira Sugenoya, the president of the inaugural ceremony’s organizing committee, said in a statement. “These blessings of nature that are represented by the mountains or oceans should be equally shared not only by us as human beings but also by all living things on this earth.”
The geography of the country was integral to the Japanese culture’s beginnings. In fact, mountains and oceans used to be worshipped in ancient times. There is already a holiday celebrating the oceans and now also the mountains.
This year, the holiday comes right before Obon, a week-long festival wherein many workers depart on their summer vacation. The inaugural Mountain Day will also “encourage people take a longer vacation and go outside, which will surely boost consumption,” one Japanese economist told Bloomberg. The holiday is expected to bring in $8 billion for Japan’s tourism industry.
The official inaugural celebration will take place in Japan’s mountainous Nagano prefecture.But there will be additional events across the country, including at Mount Fuji and the mountain-climbing destination, Matsumoto prefecture.