The Meaning of Numbers in Japan

Even in the world, the meanings of numbers change from country to country, and the impressions of numbers in a country often are deeply influenced by the culture of that country, and this is also true in Japan. Most of the lucky numbers in Japan are related to kanji. Japanese is a language that uses kanji (Chinese characters), and many of them have multiple meanings and readings. Numbers can also be written in kanji, and the numbers written in kanji also have multiple meanings and readings. In the world, there are many lucky numbers related to historical events and cultures, but in Japan, there are many lucky numbers related to the shape and reading of kanji.


Japan’s Lucky Number is 8

The number 8 is written in Chinese characters (kanji) as “八”.If you look at this kanji, you will see that the top is narrower and the bottom of the line is wider. It is said to be an auspicious number in Japan because the end of the line is widening = it is spreading wide towards the future. The shape of Japan’s famous Mt. Fuji is also considered to be auspicious for the same reason.

3 is also often preferred

3 is also often preferred
In Japan, there are so many words that use the number 3, such as the three major fireworks, BIG 3, and the 3 essential items. There are two reasons why the number 3 is favored.

Due to kanji (Chinese characters)

It is written as “三” in Chinese numerals. The number can also be read as mitsu (三つ). The same reading of the word mitsu (満つ) means a good harvest. So the number three became important in old Japan, where farming was the basis of life, and has been carried over to the modern day.

Due to Chinese culture

Kanji came from China, and there are many cultures in Japan that are originated from China. The Yin-Yang philosophy is a Chinese philosophy that classifies everything into two categories: Yang (positive) and Yin (negative). In this Yin Yang philosophy, even numbers are considered to be Yin numbers (bad luck numbers) and odd numbers are considered to be Yang numbers (good luck numbers).In this Yin-Yang philosophy, “1” is a sacred number that represents the beginning of things, and the next odd number, “3,” is favored because it is auspicious. This philosophy has influenced Japan, and the number 3 is preferred.

4 is a number to avoid

The number four is written in kanji as “四”. Interestingly, depending on the text, this kanji number can be read as “yon” or “shi”. There is no problem with “yon”, but when it comes to “shi”, there is another kanji that reads “shi”, which is “death”. For this reason, it is considered a bad omen in Japan, as it is a number that leads to death. In Japan, the number 4 is often skipped in apartment numbers, floors, and addresses, such as 1,2,3,5,6. Especially in hospitals, I have never seen a room number used 4. This is because no one wants to be in a place that reminds them of death.

Lucky Seven is worldwide

Some people say that 4 is hated and that bad things happen if you look at 4:44. On the other hand, 3 and 8 are well-liked, and 8 is especially well-liked.Another number that is popular in Japan is 7, which is said to be lucky as a lucky seven. In the beginning, people hated it or liked it for some twisted reason, such as the same reading, but it has become a culture.

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