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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Happy 10,000th Day Birthday Becomes Popular In Japan

I suppose you could celebrate your yearly birthday as you normally do, but some Japanese are adding another birthday to the mix—no, it’s not your un-birthday party per Alice In Wonderland—actually, it’s the celebration of one’s birthday in 10,000 day increments.

For example:
  • 10,000 days: Age 27 years, four months;
  • 20,000 days: Age 54 years, nine months;
  • 30,000 days: Age 82 years, one month;
  • 40,000 days: Age 109 years, six months.
The whole concept came about after some smart rice cookie noticed that after the WHO (no… not THEM, WHO - no… we won’t get fooled again, Gloria) the World Health Organization said in 2015 that the average Japanese lifespan was 83.7 years—longest lived in the world—someone calculated that that age would equate to about 30,000 days…. and so someone came up with the concept of 10,000 day birthdays.

I’ve been involved in far more lame excuses for a party… and this concept seems kind of cool to me… after all… someone has to actually calculate the exact number of 10,000 day increments… which shows that they actually care… more than merely recalling that your birthday is September 13, for example. 

So… why is this such a big deal? If it is at all…

Well, in China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan… the concept of 10,000 years is translated to mean or to wish a person a “long life”… specifically the Emperor… you know… long live the king…

It was a Chinese term introduced to Japan in the 700’sAD, as banzei (ばんぜい, or in Kanji: 万歳).
According to a Wikipedia site, the term Banzai (spelling) was shouted by the peasants to the Emperor in 642 AD, 8th month, 1st day. 

Now… did the peasants get it wrong, or did the writer of this official account of the Empress Kōgyoku (皇極天皇 Kōgyoku-tennō, 594–661) in the Nihon Shoki (日本書紀) .. the chronicles of Japan… the second-oldest book of classical Japanese history.

Anyhow, banzai - in reference to the long life aspect, that came back into vogue after the Shogun was displaced  by the Meiji Restoration of 1868… Banzai was shouted by those who were about to commit suicide rather than be caught by the enemy.  It’s used by Japanese people nowadays to say “Hurrah”, and I use it more often than not to sign-off on my daily blog.

But it has a 10,000 year symbolism… which is completely different from 10,000 days… so either my point is moot, or there may be a peasant symmetry for those of us who dare celebrate our 10,000 day birthdays.

I would suspect that for most of the people reading this, we’ve been gyped off at least one 10,000 day birthday.  I say we have an un-birthday party to make up for that missed one.

According to Kase Kiyoshi (surname first), director of the Nagano Prefecture-based Japan Anniversary Association: “The 10,000th day since birth is a landmark that falls around the time people are thinking about careers and marriage. For the 20,000th day, people are starting to look to retirement. More people are celebrating [the 10,000th day of their own] because it’s our national character to like special days and because it feels special. It probably also gives people a chance to express a wish to face their lives thereafter in a positive manner.”

Proving that I am so not Japanese—in stark contradiction to what the Japanese are doing at those various points in their life: 
  1. When I was 27/10,000, I was trying to get laid;
  2. As I approach 20,000, I am just trying to get laid;
  3. I suspect that if I make it to 30,000, I will just be trying to get laid if someone reminds me;
  4. If I make it to 40,000, I will probably be laid to rest if I get laid… making it my one chance to come and go at the same time.
Andrew Joseph
PS: For the record, I am currently 18,888 days old. My 10,000 day birthday was March 26, 1992… which I apparently celebrated in Japan.
My 20,000 day birthday is on August 12, 2019… My 30,000 day on Earth will hopefully be on December 28, 2046… which sounds an impossibly long time from now. There was no listing for my 40,000 birthday… which I kind of expected, unfortunately.

Want to learn what your days are? Click HERE.

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