On 7 July, Tanabata kicks off in many parts of Japan. It’s an annual festival season which celebrates the stars Orihime and Hikoboshi, two lovers who are separated by the Milky Way except for this brief moment on the seventh day of the seventh month.

A popular custom during this time for young and old is to write down a wish on a strip of paper and hang it from a bamboo plant. However, as the years go by it seems that fewer and fewer people are going out to make wishes. This is why Calpis Co. Ltd. has decided to spark up interest in bamboo wishes by launching a study of their effectiveness.

20 percent of our wishes come true

The makers of lactic acid drink with the homophonically unfortunate name of Calpis set up a web survey of 1,236 people aged 10 to 60 to learn about their Tanabata wishing habits. The most common wishes made were regarding, in order of popularity; health, employment, lifestyle, and finally love & marriage (together like a horse and carriage).

When asked “Did you have a wish written and tied on bamboo come true?”, 23.3 percent of respondents answered yes. When broken down into male and female, one in four women and one in five men have had a wish come true after tying it to a bamboo stalk.

For some empirical evidence, below is a photo of world leaders taking part in the Tanabata festivities during a G8 summit. Of these nine people only three are still in power, and if you throw in Berlusconi’s problems the results fit the survey’s findings rather well.

Why is a beverage company interested in Tanabata?

Calpis has pledged to continue researching Tanabata for the next six years at least, which begs the question: Why do they care about Tanabata rather than a more popular and profitable holiday like New Year’s?

The original Calpis first hit the market way back on 7 July, 1919. Originally sold in a box, this milky yet tangy concentrated beverage has gone through 11 package redesigns over 94 years to get to the bottles seen everywhere in Japan today.

But wait a minute…

By now surely some readers are cracking their knuckles and dusting off their keyboards in anticipation of trouncing all over this survey, pointing out facts such as 20 percent not being a particularly high number. Or they may want to point out that the question was referring to one wish over the course of possibly dozens of yearly wishes which would significantly lower that percentage even further.

To remarks such as those the people at Calpis Co. Ltd would probably like to say; “Chill out, guys, and have a big ol’ cup of Calpis.” (Say that out loud for the full effect.)

Source: Calpis Tanabata Action, 2013 Wish Report (Japanese)
Top Image: Calpis
Inset Image: The White House

[ Read in Japanese ]