Wanderlust Japan > Culture > Why You Shouldn’t Whistle at Night – Japanese Superstitions

Why You Shouldn’t Whistle at Night – Japanese Superstitions

Ever feel a little uneasy after coming upon a black cat?

Ever try and stop someone from having an open umbrella indoors?

It may not surprise you that people in other countries don’t care about passing under ladders or saying “Bloody Mary” in front of a mirror.

When you go to a different country you might want to know what could potentially land you in some major Karmic trouble.

Summertime in Japan is a time when many spirits are out and about. Many kids do tests of courage called, “kimodameshi.” It usually involves a one night sleepover at a creepy site or abandoned building. (It literally means “test of you liver.” If your “liver is strong” it means that you are not a person that gets easily frightened).




(It might not come as a surprise, but many older people believe in superstitions. The population of the elderly in Japan is notoriously high, so we are probably experiencing our peak for superstition at this point in time. )

-hiccup 100 times and die.

-When a hearse or something transporting the dead passes by you, you should conceal your thumbs. If you don’t your parents may meet an untimely death.


Whistle at night and….

– a snake will come out

– you will be abducted by Tengu (these guys)

– you will just be abducted

– a robber will come


In different areas of Japan the consequences are different. But by whistling you are disturbing the quiet of the night and thus bringing danger to yourself. I think that there may not be that many consequences for this now because the night is not really quiet anymore.


I wonder what happens to those people who blast their car music while riding through the night. I wish a tengu would kidnap them.





-When you take a group photo with 3 people, the person in the middle becomes more likely to suffer an early death.

I guess this is bad news for me. I am a middle child and also of pretty standard height, so I find myself in the middle a lot. Apparently you can save yourself from this terrible fate while still taking 3-people selfies if you carry a doll with you to bring the headcount up 4.



If anyone is getting weird-ed out by your doll, offer to have them be in the middle.

-If you cut your nails at night, you get bad luck. It is also said that if you cut your nails at night, your parents will die untimely deaths (I assume it is because you would also trim your thumbs, which are tied to your parents, as I explain above)

-If you step on a pillow, your legs will rot away. The alternative saying is that your legs will get bow-legged. Another alternative is that bad dreams will plague you.

There is a belief that your pillow actually has a spirit, this spirit does not take kindly to body parts other than the head being lain upon it.




-Whistle inside a home and curse the household to poverty!

In the northern part of Japan, whistling is associated with the cold. Since most people were farmers they worried about the cold damaging their crops, so whistling was strictly forbidden lest the cold take away all their hard work…


-Trip in a cemetery and lose a couple years.

Is this some foreshadowing? Because older Japanese people may think so. If you fall and then throw out a kimono afterwards it might take the punishment instead of you and you might be spared.




I will not lie that I was half-tempted to make up one crazy one and tell you it was real, but I don’t have the heart to lie.

There is a saying that if you lie about trivial things in Japan, such as this, that something equally trivial will happen to you.


*please ignore me….



August 05 Category:Culture 

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