Greenery Day, or Midori no Hi みどりの日, is a national holiday in Japan that’s celebrated on May 4 as part of Golden Week. This is a public holiday dedicated to nature, so what better way to recognise it than to learn some Japanese words about nature!
History of Greenery Day
This public holiday was originally a celebration of the Shōwa emperor’s birthday on April 29. When Emperor Akihito ascended the throne in 1989, it changed from the former emperor’s birthday to today’s Midori no Hi to reflect the Shōwa emperor’s love of plants.
Greenery Day is a part of Golden Week, one of Japan’s biggest holiday periods.
How to celebrate Midori no Hi
As mentioned, this holiday is part of Golden Week so it is often met with joy and fun since many people take time off to travel and/or spend time with family. Different people celebrate in different ways, with some partaking in planting trees, while others might spend some time outdoors at the park.
Japanese words for nature
Just like there is a vast list of words in English for the things in our natural world, there are also just as many words in Japanese. For the purposes of this article, we will explore some words describing parts of the physical world that you will see most often in Japan.
Words to describe nature
Yama no ōi
Japan is a mountainous country.
Nihon ha yama no ōi kuni desu.
Kotoshi, sakura wa hayameni kaika desu.
The cherry blossoms are blooming early this year.
Sakura no hana ga mankai desu.
The cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
Tōkyō Sukaitsurī kara tōkyō no zenkei ga miemasu.
You can see a panoramic view of Tokyo from Sky Tree.
Sōkan na keshiki
Haru ni naru to mori wa aoao toshite kuru desu.
In spring, the forest becomes lush.
Sabaku wa kansō shite imasu.
Deserts are dry.
Kono yama wa ki ga shigette iru.
This mountain is thick with trees.
(=there are many trees in this mountain)
The red sunset sky
Kyō no yūyake wa totemo kirei desu.
Today’s sky is nice and red.
Uniquely nature-related words in Japanese
There are some words in Japanese that might not have an exact translation or word in your own language. Here are some nature-related ones!
This word refers to the colours that leaves turn when autumn sets in. The word itself is made up of the kanji for “red” 紅 and “leaf” 葉. The reds, oranges and yellows can set entire mountainsides on fire (figuratively). Seeing kōyō is a highly anticipated event of the year and just like cherry blossom season, people travel all over the country to see the very best autumn foliage.
This means “cold wintry wind” and specifically refers to the first cold wind you feel at the end of autumn that indicates winter is coming. The kanji is made up of the words for “tree” 木 and “to dry up” 枯.
Meaning “sunlight filtering through trees”. This poetic word represents the dappling effect of sunlight that shines through a forest full of trees. Isn’t it beautiful!
Another beautifully poetic word, this means “forest bath”. It refers to “bathing” in the peacefulness and fresh air of the forest and reflects the connection between nature and human happiness and wellbeing.
Experience nature in Japan with Go! Go! Nihon
Living and studying in Japan is the best way to learn Japanese and to experience Japanese culture and way of life. Contact us if you want to be studying in Japan by the time the next Greenery Day comes along!