6 Bizarre Superstitions From Japan that may Freak You Out
Japan is known for their uniqueness that makes them stand out. Let us take a look in their horror lore, their lore is so rich and imaginative and you might wonder where they got the inspiration to their highly appreciated Horror films. By knowing some of their superstitions, you can find it more easy to understand the "supernatural" and "paranormal" link in Japanese culture. Like every country, Japan is full of its unique and borderline bizarre superstitions, we will tackle variety of those, from unlucky sleeping positions to rituals which will curse people you dislike. Let's get started!
1. Don't Show Your Thumbs from Funeral Cars
First off, Japanese believes that everyone who still has their parents should observe this superstition, if you still want to have your parents alive for a long time. The Japanese word for “thumb” is oyayubi which translates into “parent finger”. Observe this superstition whenever you encounter funeral cars anywhere or else you will hear “your parents will die young if you don’t hide your thumbs!” It’s believed that spirits of the dead, vengeful or not, hang around the funeral car with their casket.
The Japanese superstition suggests that if you don’t hide your thumbs while a funeral car passes, then the spirit will enter your body from underneath your thumbnail and it will cost your beloved parents' lives. This is quite spooky that's why some even go to the extent of following this belief that they will even hide their fingers as they pass a graveyard or a funeral as well.
2. Don’t Sleep Facing a North Position
Sleeping is said to be a precursor on how long you can live in this world and Japanese believe that sleeping towards the north means that you will have to die at a very early age. Many Japanese have a strong belief in this one, This sounds very scary and to some foreigners, this is one of the top Japanese horror superstitions. Locals say that during funerals, corpses are positioned so their head is facing north. When setting up beds, Japanese people are attentive to the direction that their heads will point. Sleeping with your head facing north is called kita makura. One might easily disregard this belief but this is heavily blamed when someone who slept with their head facing north receives bad luck as a consequence. The worse consequence is death and it will welcome whoever sleeps with their head north.
3. Never Write A Person’s Name in Red Ink
This one should be taken seriously. If you are in Japan now, DON'T EVER WRITE a person's name using red ink since it is considered inauspicious or not good for that person's life or career. Why? .Japanese tombstones or "bohi" are marked with the names of family members, with names written in black and red ink. The deceased members have their names marked in black, while those who are still living will have their names written in red. Writing someone’s name in red is inauspicious. Today this ties into business and social etiquette too, so make sure to change your red pens for another color when traveling within Japan, just to be safe.
4. The Dreaded, Unlucky Dates and Numbers
Aside from hating numbers especially if you hate mathematics in school, Japanese firmly believes that there are certain numbers to have bad luck behind it and must be taken carefully. It’s believed that at a certain age of life, people will experience their unluckiest years. The unlucky years are called yakudoshi, Japanese believes that it varies between men and women. The main unlucky years known as honyaku or also known as the time when a person experiences bad luck are the ages of 25, 42, and 61 for men, and 19, 33, and 37 for women.
The number four or 4 is considered to be unlucky because the word for four is shi closely resembles the word for death. Likewise, the word for 9 or ku sounds similar to the word for pain and suffering. This is why gifts should never be presented in fours, but rather in sets of three or five. Remember this if you don't want ot have your act of giving to be taken negatively.
5. Visiting a Shrine to Make a Curse or Make a Wish
You have already seen some movies or mangas set in shrine visits and something creepy starts to happen after the visit. There is an actual ceremony that is called ushi no koku mairi, it is known to be the time where people visits a shrine during the “hour of the ox” (1:00 – 3:00 AM) and they will bring a straw doll known as a waranigyou that represents to person who will receive the curse and use a long nail called a gosunkugi to nail the doll to the shrine’s holy tree. Wherever the nail strikes the doll is supposed to bring pain to the same part of the cursed person’s body. It’s believed that after seven days from the nailing have passed, the hate that someone has felt will disappear from their body, however, if the person making the curse is seen while committing the curse, then the curse will reverse itself and bad luck will fall upon the one who made the curse instead.
Shrines are not evil wish granting factories. You can also see a shrine to make a wish and if you’re making a big wish, consider doing it there or in a temple. This ceremony is called ohyakudo mairi which means “the one hundred times pilgrimage”. To do this, walk from a shrine’s gate to its altar one hundred times while praying for your wish to come true. See, the shrine can grant what you want depends on how you do it.
6. No Cutting of Nails at Night
Some countries such as the Philippines or Korea also has their own superstition about cutting nails at night but Japan has a different take on it. They say that cutting nails at the hours of darkness can cause you an early death and you will never be reunited with your parents after they die. It suggests that there is a possibility of being dead before your parents die as well.
And there you have it, 6 of the spookiest superstitions from Japan. It may be not enough to feed your curiosity but stay tuned for more superstitions that may freak you out. Not only from Japan, but also from other countries!