My dad’s a great whistler. My whistling is dismal compared to his. But as impressive as his skills are, I used to often freak out and demand he stop when he would whistle at night. Why? Because snakes would come out.
Okay, no, not really. But Japanese superstitions say don’t whistle at night, or else snakes will come out. I wouldn’t say I’m terrified of snakes, but four-year-old me definitely didn’t like the idea of snakes slithering through the yard and into our house all because my dad whistled.
Superstitions are unique to countries and cultures, and Japan has no shortage of them. Whether you believe them or not, you hear superstitions all throughout your life and you definitely have that one friend who takes them way too seriously. I’m that friend.
I was born and raised in the U.S., but black cats, cracked mirrors, and walking under ladders (not that I would go out of my way to do it) never bothered me. But the superstitions that my mom passed down to me stuck with me, and I still believe them to this day.
Besides whistling at night, I was taught not to kill spiders in the morning (but do at night), don’t cut your nails at night, put new shoes out in the morning (but if you have to past noon, pass them over a stove), and sprinkle salt before entering your home after a funeral. There are so many more, but I’d need a short book if I wanted to list them all.
I sometimes wonder myself why I choose to follow these things that I know are not true. The superstitious side of me says, “But I can’t risk it!” I know snakes aren’t going to pop out from whistling at night, and bad luck won’t follow if I kill a morning spider or I forget to put my new shoes out in the morning. I even find it silly saying out loud to my husband when I complain that I see a spider I can’t kill, or I run to the stove with my new shoes. But as silly as it sounds, I follow these superstitions and will most likely pass it onto my kids in the future, because these superstitions are part of who I am. It’s engraved into Japanese history and culture and to not follow it seems like I would be giving up a part of me.
Coincidentally (but appropriately) our 13th issue. With stories of the paranormal, costume inspiration, superstition, and festivity, our issue bring no tricks, only treats as you celebrate your Halloween. Boo!
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