Home > Focus on Japan 2011 > The Number Four

The Number Four

December 4th, 2011

This feature of a parking lot around the corner from our house kind of stands out when you pass it:



It caught me by surprise at first, and then I realized: Japanese have a superstition about the number four, as it is phonetically similar to the Japanese word for “death.”

The strange thing is, this is not typical. Hospitals are famous for omitting the number four for rooms, the same way we leave out the 13th floor in buildings. But outside of hospitals, the number four is not usually left out. I’ve never seen a parking lot with the same gap.

Stranger still, in the same parking lot, they begin at “one” again a few rows in–and the number four is present there. As is the number “42,” even closer to the sound for the word “death” in Japanese.


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