How Many Do You Know? 9 Superstitions that Any Japanese Knows
There are surely superstitions in your home country? Of course we have them in Japan as well. Here we introduce superstitions that are specific to Japan, told by grandparents to little children since their youth.
The stem of a tea leaf is called chabashira (literally means tea pillar). It is difficult for these to even pass through the tea strainer, but it is rare for it to float vertically. For this reason, it is considered very lucky for the chabashira to sit vertically. FYI, I have never experienced this for myself.
In Japan, from the old days it is said that there are gods called the Raijin Fujin (God of Thunder, God of Wind). When thunder sounds, parents often tell their children “The Kaminari sama (the God of Thunder) will come to take your bellybutton! Hide your bellybutton!”
1. Trying to hide the bellybutton, the children naturally curl up into a small ball. It is said that this was an excuse to get children to get into this pose to protect themselves from lightning that may strike from high.
2. When thunder sounds, it is often followed with rain and leads to lowered temperature. It is also an excuse to get children to keep their bellies warm.
1. A play on words for Yozume (night, nail) and Yozume (one’s wake).
2. Cutting one’s fingernails too deep in the dim light of the evening may cause pus to form during farm labor on the following day, eventually possibly leading to death. In the old days, candles were used as a source of light and it was difficult to see. There were also many families that made a living from farming. There was lack of good medication as we have nowadays.
Having large earlobes like that of the Shichifukujin (Seven Lucky Gods) is called fukumimi (lucky ear). It is said that someone with a fukumimi will become rich. There is no causal relation, but it really seems that someone with fukumimi often have good personalities.
There is a saying “Ichi fuji, Ni taka, San Nasubi (one Mt. Fuji, two hawk, three eggplant)”. It is said that it is auspicious to see these things in the first dreams of the New Year in this particular order.
1. It is the order that Tokugawa Ieyasu favored.
2. It is said that it is a play on words.
Fuji: buji (safe), fushi (immortal)
Taka: takai (high)
Nasu: nasu (to achieve)
There are various theories to how it developed.