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Meishin 迷信 The Superstitions in Japan

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Fukai nihon superstizioni

articolo in italiano



In a technological Japan, that always looks to the future, superstitions are well rooted, more than you think and at all social levels. We'll show the most peculiar and strange ones.

Hard to believe right? in a country like Japan, think that superstitions are still alive, and above all that they are many, even if different by location, it is hard to believe. Some are very strange (as often happens here too) other ridiculous, and some disturbing.

The list would be very long to do, so I will mention those that I think are more particular and interesting, so for those who know others (and there are certainly many) leave them in the comments, it will be interesting to read them.


Don't cut your nails during the nigth"yoru ni tsume wo kiru to oya no shi ni me ni aenai 夜に爪を切ると親の死に目に会えない", people believes that doing so you will not be able to be close to your parents when they die.

Be carefull at gift that are made, according to the tradition, at a wedding it is necessary to avoid giving mirrors, this because if they were broken it would be a bad omen for the couple; on the same principle it is necessary to avoid knives and sharp objects.

If you see a hearse pass, hide your thumbs "Reikyuusha wo mitara oyayubi wo kakusu 霊柩車をみたら親指を隠す". Superstition is born from the etymology of the word thumb, in Japanese it is called oyayubi 親 指. The word is composed of oya = parents and yubi = finger, therefore hiding the thumb "protects" parents from death.

Take flowers and plnts in Hospital. If you visit someone in the hospital, don't give shikuramen 英名 (or cyclamens). The initial part of the word "shi" refers to the meaning of death, while "ku" refers to suffering. The same "prohibition" is for potted plants, because being plants with roots, it is believed that this is a bad omen because it lengthens the stay.

The Chopsticks. There are 2 superstitions concerning chopsticks, one said to never pass chopstick food because it recalls the practice that is performed with the bones of the cremated body in funerals. The other is not to "stick" the chopsticks in the rice bowl or in the food in general, because it remembers the incense sticks that are placed near the deceased at the time of the vigil.

The number 4. We have seen this in part regard to hospital flowers. The number four is considered a bad omen because it has the same pronunciation as the one used for the word death "shi". So we must refrain from giving away things made up of 4 pieces, or (as happens in hospitals and hotels) to avoid assigning the number 4 to a room.

The eggplants "Akinasu wa yome ni kuwasuna 秋茄子は嫁に食わすな". Your wife must not eat the eggplants in the fall. Because it is believed that these in the autumn the body cold down, preventing the woman from becoming pregnant. Yes, as I said at the beginning, some are really "funny" and certainly very original :)

Go to bed after eat "Tabete sugu neru to, ushi ni naru 食べてすぐ寝ると牛になる". If you go to bed immediately after eating you will turn into a cow. This too is certainly very particular as superstition, but it is often heard to be said, especially in souls. 



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