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Paiprince



Joined: 21 Dec 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 12:36 pm Reply with quote
Out of all the Asian countries, Japan is the least superstitious. They don't offer children up or self immolate themselves to appease the gods nowadays.

Japan's approach to myths is a combination of playful fun and historical respect as opposed to skepticism and downright hostility half the world over. Culture would be really dull and boring if it didn't have its share of tall tales to tell.
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Double Mangekyo



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 1:32 pm Reply with quote
One of the Japanese Studies professors from my old university had this to say:
"Japanese people are the least religious, yet the most faithful."
Not sure if the meaning gets across as well in English. I think it was something about Shinto being a way of life and not a religion?
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Kikaioh



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:06 pm Reply with quote
I'd spoken with Japanese college students in the past about their views on spirituality. I would ask if they viewed themselves as religious, to which they would usually say "not at all". But then I would point out all of their Buddhist and Shinto practices they followed throughout their lives, and they would say "that's just tradition." Then I would ask them if they believed in spirits, and then they would be a bit conflicted. "Yes" and "sort of maybe" was mostly the gist I got.

On a more humorous note, I once went through a haunted house at a theme park with some of the members of my brother's homestay family when I was in Japan. When the staff would jump out occasionally to scare the guests, I personally just laughed out loud because of how simple the scares were, but the homestay family members were all rushing through like they were scared out of their wits. It was surprising to see how spooked out they got, and it did make me wonder at the time if their views on spirituality played into that.
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jutsuri



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:13 pm Reply with quote
A superstition I encountered in Japan that seemed to be taken pretty seriously was the avoidance of using the number 4 in various circumstances. Because 4 can be read as 'shi' which can also mean death, it is treated kind of like the number 13 here. Hospitals don't have room 4's, and some buildings skip from the 3rd floor to the 5th. I was also told that I should always fold my hakama and it's himo in multiples of 3.
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EricJ2



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:22 pm Reply with quote
Kikaioh wrote:
I'd spoken with Japanese college students in the past about their views on spirituality. I would ask if they viewed themselves as religious, to which they would usually say "not at all". But then I would point out all of their Buddhist and Shinto practices they followed throughout their lives, and they would say "that's just tradition." Then I would ask them if they believed in spirits, and then they would be a bit conflicted. "Yes" and "sort of maybe" was mostly the gist I got.


To not believe in supernatural spirits also means not to believe in ghosts of family members that might still have a shrine on the home family mantelpiece.
And while Shinto may have been absorbed out of relevancy in an urban Tokyo society, one of the reasons Sadako and Kayako have been so memorable in Japanese pop culture is that many still believe that actual dead ghosts can still be P'ed off at you, and even clinging to your modern 21st-century cellphone, VCR or computer won't protect you.

One veteran talked about being taken prisoner by the Japanese in the more ancient-traditional WWII wartime, and counter-threatened the Japanese officer with "If you kill me, I'll come back as a ghost and haunt you."
To anyone else that would sound hilarious, but he could see the officer was considering it a genuine threat.
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kinghumanity



Joined: 03 Nov 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 3:38 pm Reply with quote
How serious is blood type taken in Japan?

Because LITERALLY EVERYONE famous enough to have a public bio of some sort lists his or her blood type.
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yuna49



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:26 pm Reply with quote
I'm also struck by the persistence of "old wives tales," particularly the notion that getting wet leads to getting a cold. Presumably most modern Japanese understand that illness comes from germs, but you'd never know it watching anime. The first time I recall actually thinking about these issues was while reading "What to Expect When You're Expecting." It explained that the higher rates of illness we see in winter come from spending time huddled indoors so that infections spread faster, not the temperature.
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rinmackie



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 5:01 pm Reply with quote
I think the whole "Westerners/Christians don't believe in ghosts/superstition" is a bit overstated. Depending on the region or country, you can probably find people who believe in those sorts of thing. Christianity, I don't think, completely dismisses the idea of ghosts. I think it may depend on the particular sect/denomination, though. Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in ghosts, but they believe in demons. Therefore,they think all ghostly encounters are demonic. And lots of people seem to believe in ghosts and other superstitions, but as our society has become more secular, belief in such things have become increasingly frowned upon. So it's more secularism that's to blame for a decrease in a belief in the supernatural, not the Christian religion. Also, I think, maybe until just recently, buildings were often built without a "13th" floor.
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whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:56 pm Reply with quote
rinmackie wrote:
Also, I think, maybe until just recently, buildings were often built without a "13th" floor.


I generally thought that was more of a "cover your butts" move rather than a superstitious one. Y'know, in case you got that one customer or employee who actually believed that sort of thing and you didn't want them to run screaming for the hills.

Generally, though, Shinto elements in Japan's media (barring horror shows) have always struck me more as a "that's just how we roll" mentality over "this is what we fervently believe in" like you'd get in the States--particularly in the South, where I've heard radio hosts on secular channels say stuff like "I don't believe in luck because everything happens for a reason".

I have a sneaking suspicion that if you sat down a Japanese person (or several) and asked them what they actually believed in, you'd probably get a variety of answers, just like anywhere else. It's just that most people don't take the time to really dwell on that sort of thing in their day-to-day lives because of the whole "that's just how we've always done it" mentality.
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CandisWhite



Joined: 19 Apr 2015
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 11:11 pm Reply with quote
yuna49 wrote:
I'm also struck by the persistence of "old wives tales," particularly the notion that getting wet leads to getting a cold. Presumably most modern Japanese understand that illness comes from germs, but you'd never know it watching anime. The first time I recall actually thinking about these issues was while reading "What to Expect When You're Expecting." It explained that the higher rates of illness we see in winter come from spending time huddled indoors so that infections spread faster, not the temperature.

No, cold is not what makes you ill; It is what makes you SUSCEPTIBLE to being ill. I have Cystic Fibrosis, a disease which causes the perpetual production of mucus in the lungs and pancreas; With that warm, wet, playground to live in, germs are always there: The number one thing people with CF learn, and must keep as their mantra for life, is COLD BAD!

This covers air conditioning, air humidifiers, the winter, the rain, lying on the cold ground (camping); The worse off a person with CF is, the more susceptible to the cold they are; The healthier a person is, the more they are able to handle it but repeated exposure to the cold or exposure in the wrong way (such as playing in the snow when it's TOO cold outside) can lead to worsened health which does make it unbearable.

I've had to go on IV because the heat in the house conked out.

Getting wet will make your body more vulnerable to the cold: For example, I can handle a certain vent at the pool, when I am dry; This means that I must always get a locker away from that vent so that when I come out of the pool, I'm not near it.

A non-CF person with clean lungs has a LOT less garbage hanging out there so they can handle the cold a lot better BUT, if something is hanging out in your body, going out without a jacket will make you sick.

Saying that cold won't make you sick, so go without a jacket, is like saying that jumping off a building won't kill you; True, the jump won't kill you but the smash into the pavement sure will.

I would, also, point out that staying warm makes you better able to fight anything you could get: That's why people who are sick need to be kept warm, even if they are burning up.

Ever see The Secret of NIMH or read the book? Keeping Timothy Brisby, sick with pneumonia, out of that cold spring air is the driving thrust of the story.
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leafy sea dragon



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 11:13 pm Reply with quote
Kikaioh wrote:
I'd spoken with Japanese college students in the past about their views on spirituality. I would ask if they viewed themselves as religious, to which they would usually say "not at all". But then I would point out all of their Buddhist and Shinto practices they followed throughout their lives, and they would say "that's just tradition." Then I would ask them if they believed in spirits, and then they would be a bit conflicted. "Yes" and "sort of maybe" was mostly the gist I got.


Makes me wonder what a typical Japanese person's views on Americans and spirituality are, considering I think this is a difference of not only cultures, but definitions. The United States, as a whole, is very religious for a first-world country, considering the country has a "Bible Belt" and Biblical law still has a great sway over the country's mainstream decisions. But I'd imagine the ghosts and yokai and all that present in Japenese media to an American would evoke similar thoughts to a Japanese person who sees American media depicting angels, demons, God, Satan, Santa Claus, Jesus, and other figures in or associated with Christianity.

EricJ2 wrote:
To not believe in supernatural spirits also means not to believe in ghosts of family members that might still have a shrine on the home family mantelpiece.


Eh, we Americans are a people who throw our elderly into retirement homes so we don't have to look at them, and we pay good money for that.

rinmackie wrote:
I think the whole "Westerners/Christians don't believe in ghosts/superstition" is a bit overstated. Depending on the region or country, you can probably find people who believe in those sorts of thing. Christianity, I don't think, completely dismisses the idea of ghosts. I think it may depend on the particular sect/denomination, though. Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in ghosts, but they believe in demons. Therefore,they think all ghostly encounters are demonic. And lots of people seem to believe in ghosts and other superstitions, but as our society has become more secular, belief in such things have become increasingly frowned upon. So it's more secularism that's to blame for a decrease in a belief in the supernatural, not the Christian religion. Also, I think, maybe until just recently, buildings were often built without a "13th" floor.


The secularism also creates media where ghosts and other supernatural things don't get taken seriously. But I think a major factor is also that the word "supernatural" also includes stuff like sasquatches, ageless Elvis, alien encounters, and lake monsters that neither the religious nor the secular take seriously. "Supernatural" and "paranormal" are pretty much synonymous, and because of those crazy concepts, both have long become associated with the delusional, the conspiracy-loving, and, in a few cases, the scammers.
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bryantclark



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 11:29 pm Reply with quote
A former college of mine who had just moved here with his family from somewhere in japan or wherever had once asked me if I believed in ghosts, I answered jokingly 'no, I only believe in real things, like fairies and the boogeyman, who hides underneath my bed', obviously, I meant it as a lighthearted joke, surprisingly, he took me really seriously, I spent the next, what felt like an hour but was probably only ten or fifteen minutes, trying to convince this guy that the boogeyman didn't exist and that I was just joking with him, I still don't think he believed me when I told him it wasn't real because he kept asking me stuff like where my parents got the idea and whether or not there was any truth to some of it, I remember getting annoyed with him and saying something kind of mean because he wouldn't drop it.
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TarsTarkas



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2016 1:41 am Reply with quote
I make sure not to say Candyman five times in a row.
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Estelle the White Mage



Joined: 01 Mar 2015
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2016 9:49 am Reply with quote
A few of my Asian friends refuse to discuss such topics as "the dead" or "apparitions", because according to them, talking about them invites them to you.

I.e., spending an evening at a house telling ghost stories invites said ghosts to occupy the dwelling. I don't know if that is specifically just their families that believe that, but all of them do snap shut when discussing paranormal phenomena.
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Loveless100



Joined: 18 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2016 10:24 am Reply with quote
What I've learned talking to international students in Japan is that they don't practice religion but rather live it as a culture. There's a reason Christianity and other western-based religions have a small population there. If someone converts to Christianity, they have to renounced something considered a part of their culture. The first temple visit of the year, your 7-5-3, even Obon. It would be a culture shock if they simply stopped doing these things. From what I've seen they still do these things even if they don't actively participate in Buddhism/Shintoism. It's a fascinating situation that is unique to Japan (that's my perception, feel free to correct me if I'm incorrect)

When I went to Hong Kong to prepare for my grandparents funeral, there were so many things that you could buy to allow the soul a peaceful transfer. The page for a Buddhist funeral was twice as long as the one for a Christian funeral. I was somewhat relieved since the bill came out to be much less than if we held a Buddhist one, but I walked by other funerals (it was rather systematic there...such a fascinating experience) while I was leaving and there were so many additions to a normal service. And the workers there were adamant about certain things (a part I will never forget is the workers fighting over which employee number tag they got; there was one with a 4 on it and they avoided that one like the plague) I really learned a lot in that single occurrence how superstitious Asia is in comparison to America. But that's my Western perception of an Eastern concept. For them it's simply culture.
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