3 Night-time Superstitions in Japan

  • Japan has many of its own superstitions that you can often hear about in travel guides and TV shows, such as not leaving chopsticks in your rice, and number 4 being unlucky, but what other superstitions are lurking in the minds of the Japanese? Creepy, unexplained images of bad luck that are often forgotten, until you see it happening.

    As with all superstitions, these are also based on myths, religious and spiritual connections. Also, a long time ago there were stories that were most likely a village rumour to keep children well behaved, but they turned into a spooky omen of unprecedented bad luck. Listed here are 3 of those omens… beware if you encounter these!

    1. Nightly Nail Cutting

    The seemingly harmless act of trimming your nails at night is seen as bad luck. Why is this? Will poor vision in the dim light result in getting a nail shard in your eye? No. Superstitious people say that you might die prematurely if you cut your nails at night. There are various theories related to this superstition, one of the most famous being that the combination of the Japanese words 夜 (yo) for “night” and 爪 (tsume) for “nail” is 世詰め (yotsume), which means “to cut the length of lifespan.”

    2. Seeing a Spider

    If you are in Japan and happen to see a spider in the morning, don’t worry. Just leave it be and feel blessed because that means good luck. However, seeing a spider in the evening is bad luck, so go ahead and throw it out of the window if you want.

    3. Wearing New Shoes at Night

    Don’t think about breaking in those flashy new shoes you just bought in the evening, it’s bad luck! This superstition came to be because during the Edo era, people only wore new shoes when they attended a wake ceremony called “otsuya” the night before a funeral. So now, it is believed that wearing new shoes at night brings bad luck since it reminds people of death.

    There are lots of rules involving superstitions at night, so be careful if you don’t want to attract the wrong spirits! Here is some bonus advice for you if you’re feeling like whistling a tune in the evening: better keep your mouth closed, as it brings bad luck.

    Where do you think this could have originated? Could it have something to do with the fact that for most people the nighttime is a time to be quiet and peaceful, to allow for a good night’s sleep?