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What is the Ocean Day holiday? 2009/4/7 05:36
I am writing a magazine article based on the July Ocean Day holiday. I have not been able to find any details about this event. There is mention of Emperor Meiji ''returning'' from a boat trip to Hokkaido in 1876 . Why did he make the trip to Hokkaido? What is the significance of his ''return''? Return to where? Was there a bad storm? In short, I need some detailed information. Thanks.
by Lynn Benz (guest)  

Return from Hokkaido 2009/4/7 14:36
It is to celebrate the the return of Emperor Meiji to Yokohama from Hokkaido in 1876. I think it was his first visit to the island, and perhaps the first visit by an Emperor. There is a monument in Hakodate signifying his arrival.
Other than that, there doesn't seem to be too much else to it. I think it was a significant event as (I could be wrong) it was the closest to a foreign country an Emperor had traveled.
by Smoke (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2009/4/7 16:15
I had already been living in Japan as a Japanese for more than 30 years and had been living in Yokohama for more than 4 years when July 20th became Ocean Day, and this was the first time I learned it had to do anything with an Emperor.

I think that the general understanding among the Japanese citizens is that this holiday was made mainly because there was no holiday during June to August, and at the time the Japanese goverment was promoting people to take it easy on their working conditions. The "workaholic" Japan was trying to come to an end. Plus, due to the collapse of the so-called "Bubble Economy" Japan needed more holidays so that people will spend money on leisure which eventually was supposed to activate the economy.

The theme of ocean seemed ideal to most Japanese people I know, because (the first week of) July is usually "umi-biraki" season where beaches starts to allow people to swim. July 20-ish is also the beginning of summer vacation in most parts of Japan.

Later on, the government decided that there should be more 3-day-holidays so that it would encourage people to spend more money on leisure, and therefore Ocean Day became the 3rd monday of July (personally, I hate this idea).

This is my 19th year of living in Yokohama, and every year I enjoy watching the great fireworks on Ocean Day. Marine-related events are held at the port, and the port is right there by car or commuter train from my home, so I often enjoy the holiday atmosphere both in real life and on the media. But again, I never knew it had to do with the Emperor. However, you are right and it's nice to know.

Btw, every year on June 2nd, Yokohama celebrates "Kaikokinenbi," the day their port opened to the Western countries, and public elementary and junior high schools will have a holiday. So I suppose we need not make a big fuss about history in the next month.

If you're a journalist (or even if you're not), why not contact Yokohama City Hall for more details on the holiday.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

ministry's official website 2009/4/7 18:00
Btw, not even the tourism ministry mentions anything about the Emperor. I suppose they wanted the day to be more neutral.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Off the topic but... 2009/4/7 18:09
...this was the first time I learned it had to do anything with an Emperor.

As a Japanese living in Japan for something close to 40 years, I agree with the above, and also I agree with you about disliking the movable holidays to make more three-day weekends, Uco-san :)
by AK rate this post as useful

AK 2009/4/7 18:36
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

More re. Ocean Day info? 2009/4/8 03:16
Thanks to all for your information and comments. Really appreciate your help. LB
by Lynn Benz (guest) rate this post as useful

Hmm 2009/4/8 09:00
I wouldn't discount the relation between the origin of the day and the emperor simply because some Japanese people have never heard of it. Although it is commonly known as the opening of the summer and swimming season so to speak, there are many sources claiming the origins came from Emperor Meiji's arrival back from Hokkaido.

It seems that the date July 20 was chosen for this reason, perhaps not necessarily to mark the emperor's return.
by Smoke (guest) rate this post as useful

Well, 2009/4/8 09:11

I'm not saying that there isn't any relation, or that it is irrelevant, but the fact is that the day simply got introduced one year, as if it was only natural that a day that has something to do with the ocean should be there to mark the start of the school summer holidays, also on the pretext that there was no holiday in July/August prior to that :) At least that's how I encountered it (also that's how it was publicized about) *back then* for those of us living in Japan. Of course now with the wider use of internet and information available through it, sure, there we can look up and find out the precise background :) But at least *back then* the origin was not fully publicized.
by AK rate this post as useful

. 2009/4/8 10:30

Thank you for the information. I find it very interesting. I am a Japanese, but didn't know about it. We all live and learn.
by . (guest) rate this post as useful

Actually 2009/4/8 10:59
Until AK's post above (thanks AK), although most of my Japanese friends didn't know either, I thought that this was the reason for the holiday. At the monument in Hakodate, it has this written on it. But after a bit mroe reading, maybe this is not the actual reason for the holiday, rather just for the date.

Slightly off topic, I thought Marine Day was a more commonly used term. I know Ocean Day is also used a lot, but is one term more suitable or offical?
by Smoke (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2009/4/8 12:21
Thanks for the information - yes, we all live and learn :)

I think "Marine Day" is more commonly used; I cannot find any website or ministry that is officially promoting one over the other, though.
by AK rate this post as useful

Smoke 2009/4/8 21:11
When I mentioned "you are right," I meant you Smoke. I'm sorry for the confusion, because I wrote two different "you"s in that post.

So yes, I'd already noticed there are many websites mentioning that the holiday was due to the Emperor's historical event, and I'm sure it is true especially if it's on a monument. But I've also noticed that the Japanese websites supporting this origin was mostly right-winged websites, and neither of the ones I found were official websites of our government or municipal.

Whatever the origin was, I suppose the government finally decided that the holiday should not officially hold any opinions weighing towards a certain wing, because often that leads to arguments, and indeed I did find a website mentioning it is not comfortable knowing such an origin.

In any case, a simple email or phone call to the city hall near you will lead you to whatever is the official view of the Japanese government (which I'm really not that interested in).
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

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