Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Some Japanese Superstitions

Every culture has superstitions, many of which seem to not make sense. Looking at the origins of the superstition and a great deal of them do make sense in some context. Here are a few Japanese superstitions, there are more, and there are also quite a few region specific superstitions (i.e. local ones not found throughout the country, not listed):

*It is thought that when someone sneezes (Kushami), someone is talking/gossiping about that person. Additional comment - In Japan when a person sneezes it is not common to say god bless you, bless you, or Gesundheit.
*A superstition that dates back to the 19th century, but is uncommon now, is that if three people have their picture taken together, the one in the middle will have something bad happen to them (for example, die).

*If a kamidana (miniature Shinto shrine) falls it is an omen that a bad thing is, or will, happen.

*Breaking a comb or the cloth strap of a geta breaking is an omen of misfortune.
*Stepping on the cloth border of a tatami mat brings bad luck.

*You should never write a person's name in red ink, unless your trying to curse them.

*The crow is considered an evil omen and bearer of bad luck. Loud crowing or the gathering in large numbers is a sign of disaster, particularly in the evening. The thing is not all crows are considered bad luck, some crows are viewed as the messengers of the kami, a single crow cawing at 6 am and noon is good luck, and it is thought that crows take care of aged parents.
*If a funeral car passes you should hide your thumb. The reason for this is because the Japanese word for thumb literally translates as "parent-finger" and hiding it is considered safe guarding your parent.

*It is thought that if you give someone your cold it will cure yours. It is also thought that stupid people don't get colds hence Ranma's comment about not thinking Tatewaki Kuno could get one.

*If you cut your nails at night, you will not be with your parents when they die.

*If you whistle in the night, a snake (or a thief, or a ghost) will come to you.

Many Japanese superstitions show up in the Ranma manga, as the above pictures show. Knowing the superstitions, is somewhat helpful when reading manga or watching anime, since some are clearly foreshadowing, and/or an explanation for persons actions. Knowing them can give you an idea as to where the author got the idea from.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It looks like a lot of those bad omens could be signs of really bad weather is on the way, or an earthquake is going to happen soon.