In 2014 a new public holiday was added to Japan's calendar after lobbying from the Japanese Alpine Club and other mountain-related groups to create Mountain Day which was first celebrated in 2016. With over 73% of Japan's terrain being mountainous, Mountain Day comes as no surprise to Japan, as they have a chance to give thanks to the blessings of the mountains. The objective of the day is the opportunities to get familiar with mountains and appreciate the beautiful nature that surrounds you.
Before Mountain Day was officially a National Holiday it was already celebrated on 11th August in various places across Japan. The date was apparently chosen because the eighth month is denoted by the kanji ‘八' which resembles a mountain, and '11' - which resembles two trees. It was also picked for August as there are no other public holidays which would break up the working year and give people time to enjoy the mountains.
Mountain Day may sound unique to Japan but there are two other Mountain Days worldwide, one is a Student celebration in the U.S. where lessons are cancelled without prior warning and students head to the mountains for the day, as well as the International Mountain Day on 11th December, which was created by the United Nationals General Assembly to encourage sustainable development in mountains. But Japan may be the only ones where Mountain Day has now become a Nation Wide Public Holiday.
With Mountain Day being so new to Japan, there isn't at yet any established customs to honour this day. Although it's obviously is meant for a time to appreciate and experience nature so many people will be taking time to explore their local mountains by hiking, walking or climbing. Still some will be more concerned with just taking a break as it is a public holidays and some time off work is always appreciated.
This newest public holiday has also expanded on Japan now 16 annual national holidays, with may sound like a lot but with Japan's workaholic culture they need it. They also has a problem with people working excessive hours and not claiming all the leave they are owed. A lot of Japanese become overworked and need to almost to be forced to take that much deserved break and public holidays encourage people to take longer vacations.