Japanese Superstitions

As many other nations does, Japanese have many superstitions, too, even in this technological ages. Here are some of them.


Kaso -- House Floorplan

Ancient Japanese thought that the plan of a house influenced its dweller's fortune. It is believed by many people still today. Fortunetelling by floorplan is called Kaso.

For example, house entrance put on the northeast of the house is called kimon. Ancient Japanese believed that kimon conjure hellish monster Oni. Even today, many people hate to put entrance in the direction.


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Ritual Ceremonies

Jichinsai, the Ritual to calm the Spirit of Earth

Japanese hold the ceremony of Jichinsai to calm the spirit of earth when they build a new building or other installations such as highway, airport, etc.. In this ceremony, Kannushi, a priest of shinto, prays the success of building.
Jichinsai is one of traditional shinto rituals. It was believed that if someone built a new house without permission of earth spirit, the spirit would got angry and destroy the building.

Personality Stereotypes

Juni-shi (Chinese Zodiac)

Ancient Chinese associated calender with twelve animals and ten conditions. Japanese have used this calender, since it was inported from China more than a thousand years ago. The twelve animals are called Juni-shi.
The animals includes Ne(mouse), Ushi (bull), Tora (tiger), Usagi (rabbit), Tatsu (dragon), Mi (snake), Uma (horse), Hitsuji (sheep), Saru (monkey), Tori (rooster), Inu (dog), and Inoshishi (buffaroo).
The year of 1972 was Ne-doshi (a year of mouse). 1973 was Tora-doshi, 1974 was Usagi-doshi, and so on. Then what animal is for 1995? Yes, a year of buffaroo, Inoshishi-doshi. 1996 is Ne-doshi, again.
Note: This set of twelve animals is of Japanese version of Juni-shi, slightly modified from original Chinese zodiac. If you're interested in original one, you can access Chinese Zodhidac Page .

There are twelve stereotypes of personality based on Juni-shi. For example, it is said that a man born in Uma-doshi works hard, etc.

There are also ten conditions, consisting of Kinoe, Kinoto, Hinoe, Hinoto, Tsuchinoe, Tsuchinoto, Kanoe, Kanoto, Mizunoe, Mizunoto. They represents five elements (wood, fire, earth, metla, and water), though they have little meaning today. The combination of twelve animals and ten conditions made 60-year-cycle. It is said that a girl born in a year of Hinoe-Uma (condition Hinoe + animal Uma) will kill her hasband. All Japanese know that it is merely a superstition, though, the last Hunoe-Uma year, 1966, had least new born baby.


It is widely belideved among Japanese that one's A/B/O bloodtype has great influence over his personality. About 100 years ago, a doctor researched the relation between bloodtype and personality, and concluded that the O-typed were good for army soldiers. Nowdays, most psychiartists and doctors say this research was wrong. However, many people still believe it.
Bloodtype A :
A man with bloodtype A is deligent, methodical, steady, and nervous.
Bloodtype B :
A man with bloodtype B has originality, but is fickle.
Bloodtype AB :
A man with bloodtype AB is sociable and sensitive.
Bloodtype O :
A man with bloodtype O is durable and resolute.

Lucky Charms


An Omamori is a lucky charm sold at Jinja, a shinto shrine. Each shrine has a spirit which has one or several powers. For example, Dazaifu Tenmangu in Kyushu island has the spirit of Sugawara-no-Michizane, a famous scholar in 9th century. It is considered as a god of achademy, so its omamori is very popular among high school students / graduates who take college entrance examinations. Omamori for easy delivery are also popular.

A Good Day, A Bad Day


Japanese had used complex lunar calender until 19th century. A month had 28 days then. A month also had 5 weeks, and a week had 6 days. The six days included Taian, Butsumetsu, Senpu, Tomobiki, Shakko, and Sensho. They are called Rokuyo.

Nowdays Japanese people use sun calender, though, some superstitions came to life instead. Taian, "the day of great peace," is believed a good day, and Butsumetsu, "the day Budda died," is believed a bad day. Most ceremony are held on a Taian day, not on a Butsumetsu day. It is a not good idea to hold a funeral ceremony on a Tomobiki day. If it was held on a Tomobiki day, some of attendee would die soon, they say.

Historycal Note: Rokuyo came to popular in 19th century. Until then it was a very minor superstition very few people had believed. In 19th century, the government took the policy to inport western science/technology, and tried to prohibit all "primitive" superstitions. The diet passed the law to regulate the description of calender. It succeeded partially, and most of goodday/badday superstitions died. But, the government forgot to regulate rokuyo superstition because it was too minor. So people came to believe it instead of other many superstitions in those days.


Once there were another calender system in which a week had twelve days, different from Rokuyo calender. According to the calender, there were days called Sanrinbo twice a month. Sanrinbo was thought so unlucky day that people didn't start travel nor building on the day. Some people still believes the superstition today.

Unlucky Numbers

"4" is pronounced as shi in Japanese, which is same to the word "death." "9" is pronounced as ku in Japanese, which is same to the word "pain." So the two are considered as unlucky numbers. Hospitals usually have neither 4th or 9th floors.

Other Miscellanious Superstitions

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