Marine Day: the Japanese thank the sea for its gifts

Holiday. Marine Day (Sea Day, Ocean Day).

When? Annually on the third Monday in July. In 2022 the date of Marine Day is Monday July 18th.

Where? Japan.

The meaning and history. It’s an unique holiday, only celebrated in Japan. Its special location makes the sea very important for everyday life of the island nation, country’s income and trade ties. People give thanks to the sea for its gifts. Also the Japanese celebrate the official beginning of summer.

Sea Day traces its roots back to 1876, when the Meiji Emperor took a voyage on a ship through the Tohoku Region. It ended on the 20th of July. In 1941, July 20th was named Marine Memorial Day in commemoration of that trip. It only became a national holiday in 1995.

How it is celebrated. Many events take place all across the country. Museums, swimming pools and aquariums offer discounts to its customers on this occasion. A lot of people take their beach vacations around this time.

Environmental activity is very important. It helps to keep Japan’s oceans healthy and pristine. Every Sea Day people throw out thousands of “mud balls” into the water. These balls of dried mud are kneaded with safe chemicals and help to clean up sludge.

Family traditions. Kazuyo and her family moved from Tokyo to Villach only two months ago. The reason is simple: her husband found a new job at Infineon. “Our family is international. I am from Japan, my husband is from Singapore. We have been living together for 11 years and have two children, Rene (9) and Luke (5). Why did I decide to move? I firmly believe that family should be together. Besides, I’d like to give my children a new experience and the opportunity to learn new languages and cultures”. Kazuyo tells further that her family doesn’t have special traditions for the celebration of Marine Day.

Another language, another country, other traditions. What is most difficult for Kaz in Austria? “First of all, food. We can’t find many usual Japanese products, especially fish. As a maritime nation, we are used to eating a great variety of seafood. The second problem is humidity. In Austria, it is not as high as in Japan, my skin and hair are always dry. Also, on Sundays everything is closed, it is unusual for us. And, of course, driving is challenging; we have left-hand traffic in Japan. But people in Carinthia are very friendly and helpful, it gets better every day”. (July 2015)

Text: Vita Vitrenko