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Marine Day (海の日, うみのひ) is a national Japanese holiday that occurs annually on the third Monday in July. The holiday is considered to be the unofficial end of the rainy season and the beginning of summer. It is a time to give thanks to the ocean and acknowledge the importance it has for the island nation. It is also known as Ocean Day or Sea Day.

The day was known as Marine Memorial Day until 1996, when the name was changed to Marine Day and it became a national holiday. The holiday was established in 1941 in memory of the return of Emperor Meiji to the port of Yokohama after his 1876 voyage. This voyage, which navigated around the Tōhoku region, sailed on a steamboat named the Meiji Maru. The ship is on display on the campus of the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology.

Marine Day is all about the ocean! Many people use this day to go to the nearest beach and relax, swim, snorkel, or do other water activities. Aquariums throughout the country use this day to host ocean-related events.

Another popular tradition on Marine Day is attending Tokyo’s Odaiba Lantern Festival. During this event, over 50,000 multi-colored paper lanterns are lined in rows along the beach in Tokyo’s Odaiba Seaside Park. As the sun sets, the candles inside the lanterns are lit. Guests can walk through the rows of lanterns and admire the view of Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge across the water. Other Marine Day festivals occur throughout the country. Firework displays are one of the most common ways to celebrate!

Copyright (c) 2011 Manish Prabhune via Flickr. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Marine Day is also a day to give back to the ocean. The ocean is a big part of Japan’s culture and has been a major factor in Japan’s economy. Because Japan is an island, it relies a lot on the ocean. A majority of its food comes from the ocean, and it is through the ocean that it can trade with other nations. So, to give back, many people participate in the act of purifying the waters. They do this by throwing balls of mud into the ocean. These mud balls are packed with effective microorganisms, which help to clean up the waters. This tradition is both an apology for ocean pollution and a show of gratitude for all the ocean does.

Overall, Marine Day is a day to relax, enjoy the summer, and think about the importance of the ocean. It is a time to show appreciation to the sea and give back for all it does. But most importantly, it is a celebration of the ocean and the life that it provides!