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Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009

WHEN EAST MARRIES WEST

There's a day for everything


Today is Jan. 10, with Japan having now wound down its holiday celebrations and settled in for another hard year of work, work, work.

Not me. For a peek at the calendar shows there is another new holiday right around the corner — and always will be all year round.

Take tomorrow for example. It's "Salt Day!" Named as such from back in the 1500's, when a Japanese warlord heard his enemy was low on salt and magnanimously sent him some, salt in those days being a valuable commodity.

With enemies like that, who needs friends? So tomorrow take life with a grain of salt and remember even your fiercest foe has to eat. They'd probably like a drink too. Here's toasting to bad blood everywhere.

In like manner, the Japanese calendar is salted with weird and wacky days from start to finish. Many of these have business angles while others focus on public awareness. And then some are just nuts.

Still, I would much rather be nuts and celebrate than work, work, work. Take Jan. 7 for example. That was national "Nail Clipping Day," my personal favorite, which I celebrated in due fashion. Too bad it comes but once a year.

What follows then is my personal primer of the lesser holiday highlights of 2009. If you party properly, you need not work till 2010. Or, if you choose, you can celebrate all over again.

Jan. 15 — Strawberry Day. Like many special calendar days, Strawberry Day was derived by playing with Japanese sounds. Strawberry growers chose the 15th day of the first month to celebrate their favorite fruit because the Japanese word for strawberry, ichigo, can also represent the numbers one and five. Days that follow with similar word/sound links are designated with an asterisk

Feb. 1 — Odor Day. Sponsored by companies that wish for an odor-free world. Smells fishy to me. Otherwise, private odor celebrations are best kept that way.

March 3 — Ear Day.* Hear, hear! It's time to honor your ears. Crank up the band. Blare the trumpets. Bang the cymbals. And head to the ear doctor.

March 8 — International Wives Day. Note that there is no "International Husbands Day." But many perhaps, like me, had their fling on Odor Day.

March 9 — This is a trifecta of holidays, with Escalator Day, Barbie Doll Day and Thank You Day* all celebrated at once. Ride an escalator with Malibu Barbie. Hold her up to the crowds and squeak, "Thank you everyone! Thank you!" Is this a great holiday or what?

April 4 — Yoyo Day.* Sometimes I think my entire life is a yoyo trick, one where I keep tripping over the line. Now, I can celebrate all those falls.

April 10 — Wife Day. What the hell? Wives get two days!?

April 11 — Guts Pose Day. "Guts pose" is a Japanese-English term that refers to a gesture of victory. So strike a pose for every little triumph in the day. Find an open seat on the train? YESS! Both fists in the air!

April 15 — Helicopter Day. Helicopters have earned this day for the cool sound their props make when taped and played back at slow speeds.

May 3 — Garbage Day.* Produce or distribute, all may celebrate as they see fit. Me, I sit and read this column.

June 1 — Gum Day. Also my wife's birthday. Guess what she gets.

June 4 — Bug Day.* Note there is no Husband's Day.

June 17 — Belt Day. On this day fathers give their sons a good belt. A tender sight that: a young boy and his belt.

Aug. 7 — Nose Day.* Celebrated by floats of giant follicles and mucus.

Oct. 18 — Frozen Food Day. Note there is no Husband's Day.

Nov. 1 — Dog Day. Yes, now every dog has one. Or more than one, as there is a lso Pet Dog Day back on May 12. Meanwhile, Cat Day is Feb. 22.*

Nov. 3 — Godzilla Day. Godzilla has earned this honor for all the times he's outright flattened Japan. Oddly, this is also Japanese Culture Day.

Nov. 8 — Cutting Tool Day. My favorite? Hmm. While I'm fond of diamond drills, I think I'll go with a cheese cutter. After all, Cheese Day, is dead ahead, on Nov. 11.

Nov. 10 — Toilet Day. Well-known and well-celebrated. There are some, of course, that are more full of the holiday spirit than others. But did you know this is also Elevator Day? And Hand Cream Day? Another noble trifecta. Hard to combine though.

And there are many more. Like Allergy Day (Feb. 20), Shoe Day (March 15), Rubber Day* (May 6; referring to the compound, I think, not the product) Ham Day* (Aug. 6), and Vegetable Day* (Aug. 31), to name a few.

As if there could ever be enough holidays. So keep up your calendar ready.

And enjoy.

P.S. The entire calendar — in Japanese — is at www.jidousha-shunjuhsha.co.jp/calendar.html



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