What could be one reason not to go to work or not to attend class, other than being sick? Japan has a good answer. Other than being sick, a good reason to avoid school and work is to stay healthy. Irony? Not for Japan. Of the many national holidays observed in Japan, Health and Sports Day is one of them. Who would have thought that we could have a chance to rest from school and work by practicing being healthy instead of practicing being ill?
Health and Sports Day is an actual national holiday in Japan. It is observed, annually, on the 2nd Monday of October. The birth of this festivity began in 1966, 2 years after the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. This festivity originated, first, to commemorate the Summer Olympics of 1964 and to promote good health through sports and healthy dietary choices. Originally celebrated on 22 October, the day of this celebration was shifted to the 2nd October of each year.
How do Japanese people commemorate this day? It’s Health and SPORTS Day. Duh! Sports!
The festival usually kicks off with a parade that involves companies, schools, and other organizations. While participants gear up for the events, the Japanese flag will be hoisted along with the national anthem of Japan echoing across the land. Besides the usual games like soccer, baseball and karate, sporting events may also include games like tug-of-war and “piggyback fighting”.
What about food? During celebrations there must be food, right? Well guess what? For those who are weakened by vegetables, like the Laughing Samurai, you have to understand that it is HEALTH and Sports Day. But fear not, if you are celebrating Health and Sports Day in Japan, there is a certain chance to find some delicious options like onigiri.
Bonus: Not all the schools and organizations bother to host/participate in any sporty event. They just take advantage of the public holiday like how some of us, in Singapore, take advantage of National Day to sleep at home.