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Point of interest: 海の日(うみのひ)

海の日(うみのひ) - Marine Day national holiday
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うみ
, usually translated as Marine Day, but also sometimes Ocean Day or Sea Day, is a Japanese
しゅくじつ
(national holiday) celebrated on the third Monday of July each year. As an island nation, Japanese life has historically been heavily dependent on the ocean for food. As an especially mountainous country, until the arrival of modern tunnels, Japanese also used sea routes heavily as a way to reach less accessible parts of the country. The sea features prominently in Japanese myths, including the creation myth of Izanagi and Izanami. Even today, due to the number of islands that make up Japan, 85% of Japan's total internationally-recognized territory is ocean! So it seems natural that Japan would have a day of thanks for the bounty and blessings of the ocean.
As a national holiday, does not have the same name recognition as New Year or the Emperor's Birthday, but nevertheless is it is one of the 16 public holidays Japan celebrates each year. In fact was first celebrated as a national holiday in 1996, after an older commemoration day known as
うみ
きねんび
was renamed and upgraded to holiday status.
The original commemoration day was created in recognition of a trip taken in 1876 by
めいじ
てんのう
, Emperor Meiji, on a specially-commissioned ship called the
めいじ
まる
, the Meiji Maru. Emperor Meiji is the namesake of the 1868
めいじ
いしん
, the Meiji Ishin, more commonly known as the Meiji Restoration. The Meiji Restoration was Japan's transition from feudal rule under the Tokugawa Shogunate (back) to absolute rule by the Emperor. This transition opened Japan up to international trade, marking the end of
さこく
(literally 'closed country'), and began the process of modernization that made Japan one of the world's most powerful industrial economies in the 20th century.
Interesting side note: at 16 public holidays per year, Japan tails only India and Colombia (18 days each), and has twice as many as the UK and the Netherlands (8 each). Several of the holidays were legally changed around 2000 such that they are celebrated on the nearest Monday each year, creating three day weekends, in the delightfully-named 'Happy Monday System'.
It's not entirely obvious why that particular trip by Emperor Meiji was worth singling out, but it appears to have been his first trip on a ship that was not a warship (the Meiji Maru was a lighthouse vessel), and he visited a number of less well-connected parts of Japan including Hokkaido and Aomori. So the symbolism of the emperor 'shining a light' on the far-flung regions of Japan may have been significant.
The kanji in are both very common Jōyō kanji - (meaning 'day' or 'sun') is third most common, and (meaning 'ocean') is #154.
うみ
is one of our favorite illustrations of how kanji are built from their components, which in turn underlies Kanshudo's approach of using mnemonics to study kanji. It is composed of , an abbreviated form of
みず
meaning 'water', combined with
まい
which means 'every': an ocean is, quite literally, 'water every(where)'!
is of course one of the very first kanji any student will learn. It's easy to think of it as a line of sunlight seen through a square window. Etymologically it began as a square representing the sun, with a dot in the middle to distinguish it from other square characters such as
くち
(mouth).
まる
is also a common kanji, and its most common meaning is 'round' or 'circle', and this is the meaning in for example
まる
, the common name of the Japanese national flag. However, it can also mean 'harmonious' or 'calm', and this meaning is at least underlying the name of the Emperor's ship, the .

Words used in this point of interest

noun
Marine Day (national holiday; 3rd Monday of July)
9
TEST
national holiday; public holiday
2
3
TEST
noun
holiday; anniversary; memorial day
6
TEST
noun
sea; ocean; waters
(click the word to view an additional 3 readings)
5
1
TEST
noun
1. circle  (see also: )
noun, noun (prefix)
2. entirety; whole; full; complete
(click the word to view an additional 4 meanings and 2 forms)
3
5
TEST
noun
Meiji era (1868.9.8-1912.7.30)
3
TEST
noun
1. reformation; revolution; renewal
2. Meiji Restoration
5
TEST
national isolation; exclusion of foreigners  (see also: 開国)
6
TEST
noun
Emperor of Japan
(click the word to view an additional 2 readings)
2
2
TEST

Kanji used in this point of interest

カイ   うみ ocean   
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ニチ   ジツ   sun; day   ひ    -か    
シュク   シュウ   いわ to celebrate   
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キ   しる to note, write down   
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ネン    idea, thought   
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メイ   ミョウ   あかるい bright   あきらか obvious   あかす to lay bare   
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ジ   チ   おさめる to govern   なお to get better   なお to cure   
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テン   あめ    あま- heaven   
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コウ   オウ    emperor   
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ガン   round; circle   まる round, circular   
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イ    fiber, rope   
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シン   あたらしい    あら    にい- new   
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サ   くさり a chain   
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コク   くに country   
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スイ   みず water   
スイ   みず water   
マイ   every, each
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コウ   ク   くち mouth   
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