On August 7 this month, I found a huge bunch of about 15 bananas for only 120 yen at my local supermarket. Looking around, I noticed a sign saying that Aug. 8 was “Banana no hi” (Banana Day). This is a kind of Japanese wordplay involving numbers where the numbers’ sounds are used to make words. For example, my old homestay families phone number was 931-8782, which they remembered as “kusai iyana yatsu.” It meant “a stinking jerk.” The numbers it is made of are: 9=ku, 3=sa (san), 1=i (ichi), 8=ya (hachi), 7=na (nana), 8=(i)ya (hachi), 2=tsu (two).
Here is a list of some of the other dates on the Japanese calendar. You can often save money if you go to a store looking for an associated product. For example, on August 29 this month, you might want to go out for yakiniku (Korean barbecue) because many shops are likely to have special discounts on this day.
Hitomi no Hi (Pupil Day)
Celebrating glasses, contact lenses, and eye care in general
Kaze no Hi (Cold Day)
Commemorating the death of a famous sumo wrestler named Tanikaze in 1795, who died of an infection.
Tabako no Hi (Tobacco Day)
Celebrating the introduction of Peace cigarettes in 1946
Adaruto no Hi (Adult Day)
Celebrating the performance of Japan’s first strip show in 1947.
Kyuukon no Hi (Marriage Proposal Day)
Celebrating the first matrimonial advertisement in a newspaper in 1833.
Fugu no Hi (Puffer Fish Day)
Burajya- no Hi (Brassiere Day)
Celebrating the day in 1913 that the brassiere was patented in America.
Mitsubachi no Hi (Honey Day, lit. bee hive day)
Zakkoku no Hi (Grains and Cereals Day)
Sandoicchi no Hi (Sandwich Day)
1=ichi 3=san (the ichi is “sandwiched” between the threes)
Wain Day (Wine Day)
Both “20” and “wine” are pronounced the same in French
Ingen Mame no Hi (Kidney Bean Day)
Ingen sounds like the name of a monk ( who died on April 3) in 1673.
Apr. 29 – Youniku no Hi (Mutton Day)
4=you, 2=ni, 9=ku
May 8 – Gouya no Hi (Bitter Melon Day)
Gomi Zero no Hi (No Garbage Day)
Wagashi no Hi (Japanese Confectioneries Day)
Celebrating an offering of Wagashi that was believed to have stopped a plague in the Heian period.
Nashi no Hi (Pear Day)
Nanpa no Hi (Picking Up Women Day)
7=nana (nan), 8=ha (pa)
Natto no Hi (Fermented Soy Bean Day)
Onani- no Hi (Masturbation Day)
0=o, 7=na, 2=ni, 1=i
Nattsu no Hi (Nuts Day)
7=na 2=tsu (There are two “tsu’s” in nattsu.)
Tenpura no Hi (Tenpura Day)
Hottest time of the year after end of the rainy season, so tempura is eaten to prevent heat exhaustion
Because a watermelon’s pattern is like a braided rope, which is pronounced “tsuna” (2=tsu, 7=na).
Hachimitsu no Hi (Honey Day)
Hamu no Hi (Ham Day)
Banana no Hi (Banana Day)
Painappuru no Hi (Pineapple Day)
8=pa 1=i 7=na
Haiku no Hi (Haiku Day)
Yakiniku no Hi (Korean Barbecue Day)
8=ya, 2=ni, 9=ku
Yasai no Hi (Vegetable Day)
8=ya, 3=sa, i=i
Tofu no Hi (Tofu Day)
Dogu no Hi (Tool Day)
Mikan no Hi (Mandarin Orange Day)
Because ii mikan (good mandarin orange) sounds like ii mikka (1=i, 1=i, 3=mikka)
Toire no Hi (Toilet Day)
Comes from ii toire (1=i, 1=i, 10=to)
Celebrating the establishment of the Zenkoku Yuugi Kyoudo Kumiai Rengokai (National Games Cooperative Association) in 1979, as well as the opening of the first pachinko parlor in 1930 on that date.
Enkyori Renai no Hi (Long Distance Love Day)
Because in 1221, the one’s are separated and the twos are in the middle together.
There’s more information about these days on the following homepages:
Editor’s note: this post was originally published in April 2010 and has been updated.