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What is Yaoi Day?

What’s so special about August 1? Internationally, it is the start of World Breastfeeding Week. In Japan, where dates are given special (and sometimes joking) names depending on how they are read in Japanese, August 1 (8/1) is widely known as 1) 麻雀の日 (“maajan no hi,” or Mahjong Day); 2) おっぱいの日 (“oppai no hi,” or Boobs Day), as well as やおいの日 (“yaoi no hi,” or Yaoi Day). While Yaoi Day isn’t exactly an official or a national holiday, the day is indeed a celebrated day within BL fan communities.

 

Etymology

August 1 is often written as 08/01, which resembles 801, a number commonly used to write “yaoi” among Japanese BL fans. The reading for kanji character of 8 can be read as “ya,” while the number 0 is often read as “o,” and 1 is read as “i” (from its original kanji character reading “ichi”). As is typical for terms associated with the doujinshi community, these numbers are used as an abbreviation or code, and the date itself can be read as “yaoi.” Thus, August 1 is unofficially also lauded as the Yaoi Day.

 

Brief History

Yaoi Day is not the only celebration that comes from how creative Japanese can get in reading a date. Other unofficial celebrations such as いい夫婦の日 (“ii fuufu no hi,” Good Married Couple Day) on November 22 is also quite common and popular. Artists across various social media platforms use the chance to create works with themes based on the day. If you have a CP or a ship, it is highly likely that Japanese fans have a designated day to celebrate their relationship based on how the dates and names are read. 

As you had probably read in our previous explanation of what Yaoi is, Yaoi as an acronym that dates back to the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, it wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that the doujinshi community began to use the internet to publish contents under the label of 801 to signify Yaoi. Many doujinshi creators owned personal sites to host their works at the time, and 801 was often used as a password to access yaoi-related content. In this way, the community was able to keep out people who were not interested in Yaoi, as well as underage people, from accidentally stumbling into Yaoi content.

With the era of personal sites disappearing and the transition to social media being used to distribute contents, the usage of 801 as gatekeeping means is also diminishing. Younger BL readers might not be aware of the history of the term. But, the casual celebration of Yaoi Day and effective use of 801 for marketing and advertising preserve it as a part of BL culture, both for older fans to appreciate and younger fans to learn.

 

Yaoi Day: Modern Usage

While not an official celebration, fan communities, especially doujinshi ones, enjoy having the (perhaps unneeded) excuse to publish content. Many creators in the doujinshi community use the day to promote their works, especially those who are self-publishing their original BL content.

Recently, publishers have also been using Yaoi Day celebrations for marketing and advertising purposes, or for fun and to engage their audience. Last year, futekiya announced 27 new manga titles licensed to celebrate Yaoi Day. Another digital manga subscription platform also hosted a BL poem competition. It announced the winner on Yaoi Day, while other anime and digital manga subscription platforms often release sale campaigns, fun quizzes, and BL manga recommendation articles. As the BL genre popularity grows, fans of the BL genre surely can expect more Yaoi Day “celebrations” coming from publishers and creators alike.

 

About futekiya: BL manga subscription

Boys' Love Manga Subscription Service futekiya promotional image

In 2018, futekiya began as a Boys’ Love manga news and culture website operated by FANTASISTA, INC., a CG/VR production studio based in Tokyo, Japan. futekiya transformed into a budding global distributor of officially licensed BL manga in 2019.

futekiya launched as an online subscription service for officially licensed BL manga on July 8, 2019. Determined to connect fans around the world with English-translated BL legally and conveniently, futekiya empowers readers to support creators and the manga industry.

Readers who subscribe to futekiya and pay a flat monthly fee of $6.99 will have access to our expanding library of English-language manga. To subscribe, please go to read.futekiya.com and create an account. More information is in our guide.

 

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