Due to the nature of the Japanese language, it would seem that nearly every date can be somehow punned into a “holiday” from Tofu Day (Oct. 8) to Honey Day (Aug. 3). Of course these aren’t official public holidays but are often chances for companies to highlight their wares such as Pocky Day (Nov. 11) characterized by all the ones looking like Pocky sticks.
The newest on this long list is Gokusen Day (May 9) which celebrates the Gokusen Banana, the apex of Dole Japan’s years of banana growing technology. To celebrate Gokusen Day, Dole will be selling 59 of the very best of their already high-grade Gokusen Bananas.
■ What is the Gokusen Banana?
By studying over 100 different types of bananas from around the world Dole isolated the finest points of each and culminated them into making the Gokusen. These bananas were grown in an undisclosed location 500 meters above sea-level where the temperature fluctuates at just the right range and speed for optimum sweetness.
All this goes into making the Gokusen a banana the likes of which the world has never seen. According to Dole R&D, the Gokusen is 36.5% sweeter, 33.4% more fragrant, and had 40% better texture. I had no idea any of these things were so quantifiable, but I guess that’s just how awesome the Gokusen is.
In 2012 the Gokusen Banana was chosen as the official banana of the Tokyo Marathon and every year the top 200 runners are given a Banana Trophy which has their names and times carved into the peel.
■ Dole Gokusen Day
Dole chose May 9 as their new holiday because of the readings for 5 (go) and 9 (ku) which together make up goku, a pronunciation of the kanji for “extreme” which in this case refers to the extreme deliciousness of the bananas.
Making full use of the 5-9 pun, Dole will be selling 59 of their best Gokusen Bananas on May 9 for 590 yen (US$5.77) each. In a similar fashion as the Banana Trophies, these best of the best will be given a unique serial number from 1 to 59.
If you want to try and get one of these annual starchy gems, the only place to do so is the Takashima department store in Shinjuku, Tokyo for one day only. Available to only one person each, they are elegantly wrapped in a red felt box. The Gokusen chosen to be the elite 59 are all over 200g (7oz.) and 23cm (9″) in length.
Even if you can’t get one of these exclusive bananas you can always celebrate Gokusen Day with one of their regularly sold Gokusens or whatever banana you can get your hands on. Then get ready for Goto Day (May 10)! “Goto” is the name of an illegal form of cheating at Pachinko wherein someone extracts balls from the machine other than the way it’s intended such as by screwing around with the game’s software…
…We don’t recommend you do that.