Japanese Superstitions

CONTRIBUTED BY STACI HAWLEY

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It’s Saturday morning. Were your ears burning- because I was thinking of you, reader. Hopefully you didn’t drop your mirror, and run to your computer in anticipation of a new post. *Sneeze* (God bless myself). I hope you took the time to toss some salt over your shoulder while enjoying your eggs. While some superstitions seem silly, many of us actually suffer from “tridecaphobia” (fear of the number thirteen).

Most buildings in the states avoid the 13th floor- as well as airlines eliminate the aisle,13. The word superstition (derived from Latin) quite literally means “standing over” and is defined as an unreasonable belief or fear in magic or foreign and fantastical ideas. Every culture has their own particular superstitions. Who really knows where they originate. However, the last time I taught my ESL classes, my students shared with me some common Japanese superstitions.

Here are a few:

The funeral mobile– Apparently, if that big golden funeral car passes you, you should hide your thumb.

Black cat– They are all around bad luck, especially if they cross in front of you in the road.

Eating- if you take a nap after eating, you will become a cow.

Swimming- Don’t swim during Obon season. The dead will take you with them into the sea.

Snakes– If you whistle at night, a snake will come to you.

Nails- If you trim your nails in the evening, you will not be with your parents when they die.

Worms- If you urinate on a worm, your privates will become swollen.

Sleep– Don’t sleep in the direction of the north- bodies are laid in that direction.

Ceiling fans– A fan at night can kill you.

Chopsticks- Don’t share food to food with chopsticks- this is only done with the bones of cremated bodies.

So dear reader, do you have a superstition or “old wives tale” that is implanted in your mind? Anyone out there live on the 13th floor?

6 COMMENTS

  1. Oh, I Think You Forgot Number 4 Aswell, Because Number 4 Has The Same Pronounciation As Pain.

    .(__/)
    =( X.x)=
    .(“) (“)

    Bunny/
    :…..||

  2. Lol, I always knew a celing fan could kill me when I sleep!!Anway I think you forgot the number 9 and 43.Nine being in the same pronounciation as death, and 43 meaning still-birth.

  3. I just remembered this funky one!

    Don’t say that a baby is beautiful or cute. Because then spirits will want to take it back. Act as though you aren’t impressed or better yet, say how ugly it is. I think that one is from South East Asia.

    If you believe in that one, don’t show me your baby because I love babies too much to pretend that they’re repulsive!!

  4. I NEVER sleep with the ceiling fan on! I finally have redemption! As for black cats being unlucky–well there was this black cat around my cho named Daikon he was pretty unlucky, peed everywhere! And the number 13 in our family well that’s my brother’s birthday so we thought of it as a lucky number!

  5. My mom taught all three girls these:

    -if you pull out a gray hair, ten will grow in its place

    -don’t touch a newborn baby (why, I don’t know, it gives the baby bad luck)

    -don’t say that you expect something, for example, if you are hoping to pass a test, don’t say, “yeah, I’ll pass this test, no problem.” If you do, you will surely fail the test!

    -don’t walk under a ladder or open an umbrella indoors

    I’m sure most of you have heard some of these. They are quite funny as I write them down. It took me many years to “get over” this friendly advice from mom, but I’m cured! Well, I better not say, cured or else, I will surely not be cured! 😉

  6. Thanks for these,
    I especially enjoyed the ceiling fans one…
    The whistling-at-night-brings-snakes has an interesting version that I heard when I was living in Hokkaido – they said if you whistle, then it will attract burglars…
    Jon

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