shiyakujin no hokora
A Book of Little Traditions
shiyakujin no hokoraTable of ContentsIndexBibliographyBackForward
ToCminzoku shintôminkandenshômeishin

meishin (Superstitions) – 06 / 24 / 2014
meishin めいしん 迷信
mei (astray, be perplexed, in doubt, lost, err, illusion)
shin (faith, truth, fidelity, trust)

❖ (superstitions)
In Japan there are certain things one does not do because they are thought to cause bad luck.
Breaking a comb or geta sandal
Considered bad luck
Chopsticks:
Superstitions concerning hashi (chopsticks)
Give food from chopstick to chopstick
This is only done with the bones of the cremated body at funerals
Stick chopsticks into the rice
Do not stick your chopsicks into your food generally, but especially not into rice, because only at funerals are chopsticks stuck into the rice which is put on the altar as an offering
Cutting nails
If you cut your nails at night, you will not be with your parents when they die
First dreams
The first dream of a new year will come true
Funeral Car
If a funeral car passes you should hide your thumb
This is because the Japanese word oya-yubi (thumb) literally translates as "parent-finger" and hiding it is considered protection for your parent; if you don't, your parent will die
Hiding your belly when sleeping
If you sleep with your belly button exposed during a thunderous night, you may wake up the next day and realize that that your belly button had been taken by the thunder kami
Lie down after eating
If you lie down immedeately after eating, you will become a cow
Numbers:
Superstitions concerning sûji (numbers)
Four
The number four (shi) is considered inauspicious because it is a homonym for the word for death
Therefore, one should not make presents that consist of four pieces, etc.
In some hotels and hospitals the room number four is skipped.
Nine
The Japanese word for nine is also sometimes pronounced ku, which is a homonym for the word for suffering
In some hotels and hospitals the room number nine is skipped
Four & Nine
Most maternity wards don't have a room 49
Who wants to stay in a room that sounds like death and suffering?
Sleeping towards the North
Do not sleep with your head towards the North because the dead are laid down like that
On seeing a spider:
Superstitons concerning a kumo (spider)
In the evening
Go ahead and smack the evening visitor, as p.m. spiders are considered bad luck
In the morning
Hold off on killing the morning visitor, because a.m. spiders are auspicious
Stepping on the cloth border of a tatami mat
Considered bad luck
Whistle in the night
If you whistle in the night, a snake will come to you

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