The Madness Of The Japanese “Asa Banana” Fad

If you had been a savvy Japanese greengrocer in the late summer of 2008 you might have thought to buy in two or three times as many boxes of bananas than usual, oh and double the price of your bananas at the same time!

Yes, we have no banana[zu]If you had been able to do that you would have made some mula from the “asa banana” fad that hit Japan over the autumn. Japan is a nation of food faddists, or fad dieters. Two or three years ago the big fad diet thing was nigari, which is basically concentrated sea water, which is used in the production of bean curd (tofu).

Last year it was something else equally unappetizing.

This year we have bananas – or rather, “yes, we have NO bananas”, because the greengrocers and supermarkets quickly sold out of bananas the morning after some fool of a Japanese singer appeared on television to talk about how much weight she’d lost by scoffing bananas for breakfast.

There was no end to no bananas – at least until about a month later when the fad (but not the fat?) began to dissipate.

What does all this have to offer the Internet marketer by way of a salutary lesson?I checked out the listings on for the term “banana diet” in Japanese and checked their details in

The top three sites all show a marked spike in their Alexa rankings during the height of the banana mania.Here are the results for “banana diet” (in Japanese Hiragana script):

Website Google Alexa on November 25 2008 Domain 1 297,680 June 16 2008 2 394,520 November 08 2007 3 98,638 March 10 200

And here are the Alexa ranking graphs for each site, clearly showing the spike in the second half of september:

It will also be noted that the top two sites on Google have now dropped off the Alexa ranking graph (which only has data for the top 100,000 websites). The site which has managed to stay on the chart is the one that is named after the fad: The advantageous domain name is probably what helped promote the website up above the other two at the height of the banana fad – the spike is much bigger for this website.To be honest, I had expected to be the newest site, but in fact it is the oldest site with the most reach across the Internet (probably 99.9 of its visitors being based in Japan).

Each site is monetized in a different way. uses three different sort of Google Adsense ads. It is essentially a Google adsense site. There are three Google ads on every page of the site along with a good quantity of useful info about various healthy food products, but there is no easy site navigation; each page is essentially a stand-alone – in fact the only link back to the homepage is at the very bottom of the page jammed up against the copyright info! links through to a series of health and banana-novelty products which can be purchased on The links are all via mini-graphics that form a small box at the top of the page. Again, there is no easy way to navigate the rest of the site. is monetized via but also has an “omiyage” (souvenir) link. The “souvenirs” turn out to be New Year post cards featuring the website’s “cute” character. They can be freely printed off. From there you can click through to discover more about the artist, and this may well be the whole point of the website. It is by far the nicest of the three sites, and easy to navigate.

It seems, though, that all three sites have missed a golden (yellow?) opportunity to cash in on the brief, barmy, banana boom.What would you have done with any of these sites to turn a fad into a fortune?

David Hurley