What do these people have in common?
Michael Jackson, birthday: August 29, 1958
Bae Yong Joon (Yon-sama), birthday: August 29, 1972
John McCain, birthday: August 29, 1936
Charlie Parker, birthday: August 29, 1920
Right! Their birthdays are the same!
But what about their birthdays is special and interesting to those of us studying Japanese language and culture?
Here’s a hint… it has something to do with Tsuruhashi in Osaka…
Yes you got it! Korean BBQ!!! Let’s break it down. (Wut?)
The Japanese word for Korean BBQ is basically 焼き肉 (yakiniku).
“yaki” means to be cooked, and “niku” means meat.
Let’s jump to the birthday link.
The birthdate in question is August 29th.
In Japanese August 29th is 八月二十九日 (hachi gatsu nijyuukunichi).
The number 8 is “hachi” in Japanese, but the same character can also be read “ya” As in 八つ (yatsu). This “ya” sound matches up with the “ya” in the Japanese word for BBQ, 焼き肉 (*ya*kiniku).
The number 2 is “ni” in Japanese, and you hear it right there in “29” which is “nijyuuku.” This “ni” sound matches up with the first syllable in the Japanese word for “meat,” 肉 (*ni*ku.)
The number 9 in Japanese is “ku” or “kyuu.” You can hear it in “29” which is “nijyuuku,” or “nijyuukyuu” for that matter.
So now you can see that YAKINIKU has all the components to spell out August 29th in Japanese if your twist your mind around this crazy Kanji game.
Ever heard anyone say that if you have to explain a joke it isn’t funny? I guess I just destroyed that one…
I came across this Yakiniku thing again because I asked a new friend when her birthday was… and she responded, “yakinikunohi.” She was also then able to tell me that Yon-sama and Michael Jacksons also were Korean BBQ Birthday Boys. Awesome.(?)
Some Charlie Parker for you on the way out:
Tsuruhashi for Korean BBQ