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Superstitions from Japan

Akiko Tanaka and Hironobu Yasuda from Japan

Akiko Tanaka
Akiko Tanaka

Akiko Tanaka describes superstitions about the "kita-madura" (north pillow) and about snakes bringing good luck.

If you put your head to the north when you sleep, you will have bad luck because (in Japan) only dead people lie with their head to the north. Most people believe this superstition.

We always pay attention to the direction our heads will point when we put beds in a room or lay futons on the floor. We call this superstition "kita-makura." Kita means north. Makura means pillow.

If you put a piece of snake skin into your wallet, you are going to become rich or find money. Snakes are a symbol of money and wealth in Japan. Some people believe the snake is an animal of God, so they never kill snakes. People say if you kill a snake, you will lose your money.


Hironobu Yasuda
Hironobu Yasuda

Hironobu Yasuda describes three superstitions about a white snake, sleep, and the number four.

In Japan, there are a lot of superstitions. First, there is a superstition about a white snake. People say if someone finds a white snake, he will be lucky in life. It's an event of good omen; it is believed that white snakes carry good luck. Actually, some people put a picture of a white snake on the wall.

Second, there is one about when we sleep. We can't sleep with our heads to the north because a dead person is always buried with his head to the north. It is believed that death welcomes someone who sleeps with his head to the north. That's a bad omen.

The last one is about the number four. There is a superstition that four is an unlucky number because the number four has the identical pronunciation as the word 'death', so most people tend to avoid it and most hotels don't use the number four.

There are many traditional superstitions, but nowadays most of them aren't believed by young people.

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