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May 15, 2017

Japanese Superstitions Part One (Ep. 6)

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In May’s Uncanny Japan you get three Japanese superstitions and why:

1) Please don’t cut your nails at night.

2) Please don’t whistle at night.

3) Please do kill spiders at night…or don’t, actually you might not want to. There’s a good argument why you should let those night spiders live.

Japanese superstitions

Above is an Edo Era woman cutting her nails with some ginormous nail clippers.


The intro/outro music of Uncanny Japan is a song by Christiaan Virant (“Yi Gui” from Ting Shuo).  The whole album is just gorgeous as it everything else by FM3.

2 comments on “Japanese Superstitions Part One (Ep. 6)”

  1. While I was living in Japan (’93-’99, in Shikoku), a coworker died of a heart attack. I was honored to be allowed to pay my respects to his family and to his resting body. At that time, I was told that the family members would be cutting their nails to burn with the body to act as money after death.

    And now, of course, I can find nothing to back that tale up, so perhaps not.

    1. Erik, thank you for commenting. I will absolutely look this up and ask around. I haven’t heard of it personally, but it very well could be something done only in Shikoku. In my area, little personal “presents” or items that you would like the deceased to take with them to the afterlife are often placed with the body before cremation. My husband (a huge rock fan) gave his grandfather a cassette tape with “Stairway to Heaven” on it. I thought that was quite sweet. I’ll most definitely look into the fingernail thing! Thanks again.

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About The Uncanny Japan Podcast

Speculative fiction writer, long-term resident of Japan and Bram Stoker Award finalist Thersa Matsuura explores all that is weird from old Japan—strange superstitions, folktales, cultural oddities, and interesting language quirks. These are little treasures she digs up while doing research for her writing.

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