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What do you think of when you hear the word "superstition"? I think of Stevie Wonder. No wonder?

Like in other cultures, there are a lot of superstitions in Japan. Some people take them seriously, others don't. Me? Well, not really. But I don't cut my nails at night. It would be one of the most widespread superstitions among Japanese that if you cut your nails at night, you will not be able to see your parents when they pass away. It's not that I really believe this superstition, but I've had a vague feeling of dread about it since I was a kid. Interestingly, my wife cuts her nails after dark saying, "A cat's nail, a cat's nail." It's a kind of charm practiced around Nagoya, I suppose.

There are also unlucky numbers. The unluckiest one is "4." The pronunciation of the number is "shi," which is a homonym for "death." That's why. In fact, most hospitals don't have a room numbered 4. In the same way, 9 is regarded as unlucky by many; its pronunciation "ku" evokes "agony" or "hardship."

By the way, my birthday is February 13th. Oh yeah, the eve of Valentine's Day! Cool, eh? Well, I'm not a Christian, nor am I religious, but I was born on Friday the 13th! Sounds cool? Haha....


Of course here in the States, 13 is the unlucky number. My wife is a nurse and they don't have a room 13 at any of the hospitals she's worked at. In fact, they don't have any rooms with 13 in the room number. (no 113, 213, etc...)

When I was young someone told me that if I were to fall asleep with my right hand over my heart, I would have nightmares. I've never fallen asleep like that since. I'm not superstitious. I just know my mind would play that cruel trick on me. I have enough nightmares as it is.

In Taiwan (and Chinese-speaking countries), 4 is also a bad luck number. Same thing- homonym for death. I think maybe also in Korean, but not too sure.

9, on the other hand, is a good luck number. It's a homonym for long-lasting, eternity.

Well, gee, I have to confess that I often go out of my way to do exactly what a superstition tells me not to do. It's a kind of game, with me. Although I draw the line with broken mirrors; that can get to be a little expensive. ;)


It's good to take it as a kind of game. ;) It's interesting that 4 is an unlucky number in Taiwan for the same reason as here. Lucky numbers are 7 and 8 in Japan.

I had heard that cutting nails at night was the cause of the death of somebody you knew....curious now what the root of that superstition is, since this is the first site I had heard a similar bent on the same theme....

den4 :o

Oh, that's interesting, den4. I haven't heard about it, but there could be something in common. Where does the superstition linger on?

I always had a hard time with that nail cutting superstition. Partly because I saw no logic in this. As we know, time is an illusion. Also, night and day are just subject to the rotation of the earth. So, if it is night in Japan, then it is day in the US. So, if I cut my nails in the day in the US, then it is night in Japan, so does that mean somebody gets harmed or dies or some curse will be unleashed in Japan? Or, if you happen to be in the space shuttle or future space station, orbiting the earth, if you are in space, isn't it always night out there? Or day, if the sun is shining? Would the superstition work in space?

My view is that in the olden days of Japan, people usually worked out in the fields, planting, or harvesting their crops (as shown often enough in the mukashi banashi stories). Most people are awake and aware during the daylight hours, but are most likely tired and weary in the night. At night, people are more prone to drink and get careless, too, because the darkness obscures things, even by candle light or lamps...so, cutting your nails was most likely done with knives...not sure about when the nail cutter was invented, but it couldn't have been more than a couple of hundred years at most.

So, perhaps, at least the superstition I heard may be the result that cutting fingernails/toenails at night would cause injury, so beware of cutting nails at night....and that got superstitionized into if you cut your nails at night, somebody you know may die....

regarding your version, I have no idea....need to think on that one....but it probably has a grain of truth somewhere....convoluted as it is... :D


Yeah, that's convincing, den4! Cutting nails in the dark must have been very dangerous. The superstition could be born as a caution. So, probably yours and mine are two of its versions. :)

Still looking around to see if there are any other references to this one....maybe there is a true source for all the superstitions in japan.... :o

den4 :o

I went to Italy and it is not uncommon there for to give the house between 12 and 14 the number 12 and a half. And i've lost count of the number or buildings i've gone to the wrong room because they refuse to admit to their thirteenth floor.