Superstitions

Hear about some superstitions on Episode 11 of our Podcast, the Japan Archives.

Superstitions

This page serves for all the Superstitions we come across during our research into Japanese history. It will contnue to expand over time.

Plants

Superstitions
Lygodium Japonicum
  • Staying on the Ryukyu Islands, they have a plant there known as the Lygodium Japonicum, this climbing fern has associations with being able to capture evil things which would ensure the safety of a place or area.

Body Parts

  • When it comes to toenails there is the belief that cutting them after will shorten your life. This perhaps it due to the play on words of yotsume which means night and nails, but also can mean ‘to die early’ or ‘to shorten ones life.’

Animals

  • Be sure to not kill a spider in the morning as it is the bringer of bad look and may be a messenger from Heaven. Conversely, a Spider at night may bring bad luck and can be killed, and may also be a messenger from Hell.
  • If you whistle at night, it is likely that a ghost, snake or monster will appear in front of you.

Fire

  • If you play with fire at night, you will wet your bed.

The Year of Hinoe Uma

There is the belief that women born in this year will be filled with stubbornness and a fiery temper.

The idea stems from a tale known as The Greengrocer’s Daughter. In 1681 there was a women in Edo who was taking refuge from a fire. During this time she fell in love with a man, and wanting desperately to meet him again she started another fire hoping that would bring them together again.

This belief still exist, and the last time this year occurred (1966) the birth rate dropped by 25% as people did not want to have a daughter with these characteristics. The next occurrence will be in 2026.

The Thunder God

Ensure that you cover your navel when it thunders as the God of Thunder will come and take it.

This idea comes from an interesting story in which the God of Thunder is said to have a love for eating them.

The story says that there was a man who wished to fight the God of Thunder. And knowing he loved this particular part of the body, he murdered a woman and took her navel; hanging it from a kite to lure down this God.

The God took the bait and begins to chew upon it, when the man appeared to fight him.

In a bizarre twist it says the woman actually didn’t die, and was reunited with her navel.1

Footnotes

1. Cummins, A. (2017) “The Dark Side of Japan: Ancient Black Magic, Folklore, Ritual.” Gloucestershire: Amberley Publishing.

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