Happy Goku Day! The ‘DBZ’ holiday, explained

Happy Goku Day! The ‘DBZ’ holiday, explained

Son Goku is a pop culture icon. He’s been one for years, largely thanks to the influence of Akira Toriyama, and his world-wide sensation Dragon Ball.

The popularity of his hit manga, which became a hit anime (and then another, and another, and another) birthed an obsession with the character, who’s been central to each of Toriyama’s most popular contributions to the anime and manga world.

That obsession started back in the mid-80s, when Toriyama’s first Dragon Ball issue hit shelves. Its only grown in the decades since, as more viewers discover the thrilling world Toriyama created all those years ago, and celebrate the endlessly brave, perpetually kind, and unimaginably powerful character that earned a fandom that’s persisted for 40 years.

Is Goku Day a national holiday?

Image via Crunchyroll

All that Goku passion even birthed a holiday, aptly called Goku Day, also known as Son Goku Day, which is celebrated on May 9 every year. It’s been celebrated, particularly in Japan, for decades now, but it wasn’t “officially” recognized by Japanese authorities until 2015. In the years since, however, its been widely-acknowledged as a national holiday within the country’s borders.

The reasoning behind the holiday’s date likely isn’t what you think, either. While most would probably assume that May 9 holds some significance in Dragon Ball canon, or that it relates back to Goku’s fictional birthday, a Japanese-specific culprit is actually behind the holiday’s date.

In Japan, people approach their calendars by digesting first the month, and then the day. With that in mind, they read Goku Day’s date as 05/09, and how they pronounce those numbers led to the original Goku Day celebration. The kanji for the number five is pronounced similar to “go,” while the kanji for the number nine is pronounced similar to “ku,” meaning that May 9 sounds a lot like the name of Dragon Ball‘s titular character.

That coincidence birthed a fan-favorite holiday that, since 2015, has been celebrated by a huge swathe of Dragon Ball fans across the globe.

How is Goku Day celebrated?

Image via Toei Animation

Every fan celebrates Goku Day a bit differently, but most Dragon Ball fans out there treat the holiday as an excuse to nurse their obsession with the franchise. They organize watch parties, tournaments of the franchise’s myriad games, or upload their favorite fan art to social media.

A number of retailers also seize the opportunity to discount Dragon Ball products on the holiday to boost sales. So if you’ve been awaiting your perfect opportunity to dive into Akira Toriyama’s sprawling world, May 9 is your chance.

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