12 Unbelievable Japanese Superstitions That Will Blow Your Mind

The Japanese society is inherently entrenched with superstitions. While the origins of these superstitions is widely debated, most of them are still practiced far and wide. But what exactly are these superstitions about? Are they meant to teach you lessons? Are they designed to offer practical advice? Let’s find out about 12 unbelievable Japanese superstitions that will blow your mind!

Passing Food From One Chopstick To The Other

Passing food from one chopstick to the other isn’t just a Japanese superstition, but it’s also considered to be a deadly’ mistake. This taboo is related to the funerals. Usually, in Japanese funerals, the bony parts of the deceased individual are passed from one person to the other with a special set of chopsticks. So if you make the terrible mistake of passing your food with chopsticks to another person who then takes it with their chopsticks, you are inadvertently foreshadowing a bad omen. So next time you’re planning to share your slice of toriniku, think again!

Never Sleep facing The North

This is yet another popular Japanese superstition that Japanese people vouch by. According to this superstition, no individual should sleep with their head positioned to the North, since North is deemed to be the direction in which corpses are laid. Due to this reason, North is automatically considered to be the seat of demon. If you’re really looking to sleep well, try facing the East or South, since these are considered to be the luckiest sides in the Japanese culture.

Lucky and Unlucky Days

Unlike our conventional Gregorian calendar, the Japanese Calendar has six days which goes by the name of Roku You’. According to this calendar Sen-Make’ is considered to be an unlucky day. Due to this reason, it is highly recommended to avoid business transactions, marriage or gamble on this particular day. Butsu-metsu’ is yet another unlucky day where bad luck prevails throughout the day. This is why it is highly recommended to avoid marriage and business transactions on this day as well. Alternatively, Tai-an’ or Dai-an’ is considered to be one of the luckiest days in the Japanese calendar. This is an ideal day for opening your new business or conducting a wedding ceremony. So if you follow the superstitions in Japan, this is one norm that you just cannot miss!

Unlucky Numbers

Just like the days, the Japanese culture also deems certain numbers to be unlucky. The number 4’ for instance, is considered to be unlucky since it is pronounced the same way as death’ (pronounced as shi’) in Japanese culture. Similarly, the number 9’ too is considered as unlucky since it is pronounced as ku’ which is the first Japanese syllable for suffering/torture.

The number four is considered bad luck in Japan

White Snake as a sign of Good Luck

According to the Japanese culture, the white snake is a crown of Benzaiten, who is the goddess of wealth, fortune and abundance. Here, the white snake appears to be her messenger. So if you encounter a white snake (either in reality or dreams) it is automatically considered to bring you good luck.

Throwing Salt on Yourself/Somebody’s Back

When you attend a funeral and proceed to head home, it is recommended to chuck some salt on your back. If you’ve visited the funeral with a friend, it is recommended that both of you to throw some salt on each other’s back. This ritual is a part of Japanese culture since salt is considered to be a natural cleanser. So once you throw salt, you’re cleansed of all the potential impurities that might have otherwise haunted you.


Tea Leaves Floating On a Cup

While pouring green tea from a kettle, always try to check if a couple of leaves float on the top of your cup. The more leaves you find inside your cup, the fuller will be your future. Similarly, if you find a couple of leaves floating on top of your cup, it is a direct indication regarding a visit from a loved one/stranger.

The superstitions pertaining to tea, doesn’t just end here. According to Japanese culture, the bubbles that stick to the side of your cup indicate the number of kisses that you’ll receive. Bubbles right in the middle of your cup, is an equally good omen. These bubbles suggest that you’re going to be rich and prosperous in the long run. So the more bubbles you end up with, the more money you’ll potentially earn!

Killing Spiders

In Japanese Culture, spiders are considered to bring good luck during the mornings. So if you spot a spider during day time, never make the fatal error of killing it. Interestingly, these same spiders are deemed to be lethal at night. So when you spot a spider after evening, kill it immediately.


Writing Names In Red

According to Japanese culture, one should never write somebody’s name in red ink. The color red is deemed to be inauspicious since grave markers are painted in red. So next time you write a letter to someone, avoid using red ink.

Cutting nails At Night

Although this more or less a part of every leading culture, Japanese culture too goes by the notion that cutting nails at night can bring forth your loved ones’ death. In certain cases, it is even suggested that the act might lead to a situation where you’re unable to stand by your parents, right before their death. Others suggest that cutting nails at night might shorten your lifespan and attract evil spirits who might eventually take your shape.

Nail Clippers

Carrying an Omamori

Many Japanese individuals carry omamori in their wallets and purse. This is considered to be something similar to an amulet that protects you from evil spirit. If you visit Japan, you’ll find various omamoris to pick from. While some are meant for success or preventing ailments others are for prosperity in business and education. Most of the omamuris are also available at shrines.

Cats in Business

While the Japanese culture, like other cultures, considers black cats to be a bad omen, certain kittens/cats are also considered to be lucky for your business.  One such cat is the Maneki Neko.  Literally this translates as beckoning cat.  Often times this figurine is placed in front of various business establishments.  So if you’re planning to start a business or currently own one, it is perhaps a good idea to get your own.

Maneki Neko

So did you enjoy today’s article on Japanese superstitions?  Are any of these superstitions similar in your own country?  If you haven’t already done so, check out the last article on Common Scams in Tokyo.

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