"You're not a wave, you are part of the ocean," Mitch Albom
Monday was “Marine Day” (also known as “Ocean Day” or “Sea Day”) here in Japan, this nation of islands, . As you can imagine it’s a reflection of the importance of the sea for sustaining it’s population. Fresh fish, shellfish, sea urchins and kelp are highly prized in a country that values the health-giving properties of the sea’s bounty. The people are fastidious about freshness and food is prepared daily in its purist forms.
Of course everyone associates Japan with sushi and sashimi which I had always assumed was a style reflecting of the aesthetic principles of delicate proportions artfully displayed. I just learnt that the origins of this distinctive food actually dates to the Edo period when Tokyo was first becoming a major city of influence within Japan’s borders. The shallow bay meant shellfish were prevalent and fish were smaller so it was a practical way of sharing the flavorful protein with thin slivers laid over the staple of rice. If you think about it, it was eminently sensible for the area but now popular around the world.
Talking of fish, this will be the last year the famous Tokyo Fish Market will operate here because it will be relocating out of the city in 2016. In this populous city where land is at a premium and reclamation initiatives are a major undertaking this major facility will close. Even though it has been planned for years there is still debate from the restauranteurs and merchants who are already up extremely early every day to source the best quality fish from their favored suppliers. If you have the opportunity to attend before it relocates I recommend making the effort to experience this bustling activity that is a model of efficiency on a scale that is quite impressive.
Anyway, back to Ocean Day. Celebrated as a national holiday on the third Monday in July since 1941 this is a busy weekend of travel when people go to the beach or visit family although many businesses and schools are still in session. Since the Japanese don’t take long periods of Annual Leave like other countries, their 3 day breaks are definitely appreciated.
Beyond the holiday itself, perhaps we should think of every day as Sea Day since 3/4 of our planet’s surface is ocean. It’s a source of food, pleasure and recreation for many but increasingly it will have to be a source of precious water with desalination facilities and wave turbines to generate power. Let’s cut back on the trash that finds its way into our oceans and protect this vital source of life. That’s my goal for Ocean Day.