In Japan, there is a holiday that is meant for the celebration of the ocean’s bounty. Since centuries past, the sea is important to the lives of the Japanese people. This is quite understandable since Japan is an island nation. Sea Day is also known as “Marine Day” or “Ocean Day” and is called Umi no Hi in Japanese. Originally, it was celebrated on July 20, back in 1995, but since the introduction of the Happy Monday System (whereby some holidays are moved to Monday to allow for long weekends), it has been celebrated on the third Monday of July beginning in the year 2000.
Despite being a relatively modern holiday in Japan, Sea Day traces its roots back to the Meiji Era when, in 1876, the Meiji Emperor took a voyage on a ship called Meiji Maru through the Tohoku Region. The emperor ended the voyage in Yokohama on the 20th of July. Subsequently, In 1941, July 20 was named Marine Memorial Day in commemoration of that trip but it was only in 1995 when it was declared a national holiday. The ocean has been a source of the country’s income before Japan opened its doors to foreign trade, so it’s no wonder why the Japanese would designate a day to offer gratitude for the sea, which has supported their economy for hundreds of years during the Edo period.
This holiday is not only cause for celebration for the gifts that the ocean brings to maritime Japan. It has also been associated with the official beginning of summer. At this time, beaches begin to open with people flocking to the seaside to enjoy the season, while all across the country, many events take place. On this occasion; museums, swimming pools and aquariums begin offering discounts to its customers during this busy season.
Just as well, environmental activities are held to help keep Japan’s oceans healthy and pristine. All over the country, a mud ball-throwing event is held simultaneously, but these are no ordinary mud balls. Called EM mud balls, these balls of dried mud are kneaded with safe chemicals and are thrown out to bodies of water such as lakes, oceans and rivers to clean up sludge and slime. Yearly, thousands of these mud balls are thrown out into the water. This is an occasion for avid film artists to get a shot of an event that gives relevance to the Sea Day celebration.
In a beachfront in Tokyo called Odaiba, many volunteers gather to light hundreds of paper lanterns that are beautifully arranged in patterns and laid out on the sand for the Sea Day Celebration. The whole beach is practically covered in a sea of lanterns, creating a dazzling visual display. Needless to say, film artists should be ready to capture on camera, the play of light and color, that is a magnificent visual picture of Japan’s unique tradition.
Other events to watch out for include activities in Yokohama Port where people gather to watch crews set up the sails of the ship museum called Nippon Maru in celebration of the event. An annual fireworks display in the Port of Yokohama also ends the day of streets filled with people attending to watch the parades with colorful floats and traditional drum ensembles. This is a perfect time for any video enthusiast, to take a post by the street sides or near the port, with their cameras, ready to capture this momentous yearly event. Celebrating the Sea Day is an event that mixes tradition with an array of magnificent and visually pleasing activities that is uniquely Japanese.
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