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Lesson Transcript

INTRODUCTION
Peter:
Stop by our website japanesepod101.com for all the latest and greatest features, line by line audio, iPod on the go plus much more. Stop by and see what’s going on at japanesepod101.com
Sakura:
さくらです。第二回目、日本文化レッスン。
Peter:
Peter here and we are back with the second installment of Japanese culture class. As always, we are brought to you by Erklaren, the translation and interpretation specialists. Now today again, we have a great show. As we mentioned last week, each Saturday it will be a Japanese culture class. Right Sakura?
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
Okay so what words did you say in the beginning. Could you say it one more time? Let’s see if everybody out there can get it.
Sakura:
第二回目、日本文化レッスン
Peter:
Very, very nice. Everybody out there get that and what was the translation on that.
Sakura:
Second Japanese culture class.
Peter:
Yes very nice, okay. Let’s start with the first part and can you break it down for us?
Sakura:
第二回目
Peter:
Okay stop right there. One more time please.
Sakura:
第二回目
Peter:
And what does this mean?
Sakura:
The second.
Peter:
Yes please break down the words inside of this.
Sakura:
Peter:
One more time.
Sakura:
だい
Peter:
And syllables
Sakura:
だい
Peter:
Okay and when this is followed by a number, it becomes an ordinal number. So for example, in this case, we said
Sakura:
第二
Peter:
Okay. Give us the number one more time.
Sakura:
Peter:
Everybody out there knows that right? Two, so when we combine the 第 with the
Sakura:
Peter:
We get
Sakura:
第二
Peter:
And this is second. Okay next we had
Sakura:
回目
Peter:
Okay and one more time please?
Sakura:
回目
Peter:
And can you break this down by syllable?
Sakura:
かいめ
Peter:
Very nice and what was the translation on that?
Sakura:
This means the number of times.
Peter:
Yes very nice. So when we combine the whole thing, we have second time. Give us that one more time please.
Sakura:
第二回目
Peter:
Yes very nice, next we had
Sakura:
日本文化レッスン
Peter:
Yes very nice okay. Now let’s break this down. Three words in there, we are going to give you the first word. Listen close, you should get this one. Here we go.
Sakura:
日本
Peter:
Yes one more time.
Sakura:
日本
Peter:
Yes very nice and this is
Sakura:
Japan.
Peter:
Okay very nice. Next we had
Sakura:
文化
Peter:
One more time nice and slow.
Sakura:
文化
Peter:
Break it down.
Sakura:
ぶんか
Peter:
Very nice and what’s this?
Sakura:
It’s culture.
Peter:
Yes culture. Next we had
Sakura:
レッスン
Peter:
And break it down.
Sakura:
レッスン
Peter:
Very nice and what’s this?
Sakura:
It’s lesson or class.
Peter:
Yes okay so give us the whole expression one more time.
Sakura:
第二回目、日本文化レッスン。
LESSON FOCUS
Peter:
Very nice. Okay you get that. Second Japanese culture class. Okay we have a great, great show for you today. How good is the show? We were up till the late hours of the night researching this topic out of genuine interest. Now Sakura is going to give you the topic. Let’s see if you guys can get it. Okay here we go.
Sakura:
迷信
Peter:
Very nice. Now this is a very, very difficult word. We are going to say it a little slower. Here we go.
Sakura:
迷信
Peter:
Very nice, now break it down for us.
Sakura:
めいしん
Peter:
One more time.
Sakura:
迷信
Peter:
Okay so Sakura, can you tell us what does this word mean?
Sakura:
It means superstition.
Peter:
Perfect, there we go, superstition. Okay the reason we are covering this was, yesterday, what was yesterday?
Sakura:
Friday, the 13th.
Peter:
Yes Friday, the 13th. So for Americans and western people, this is a very unlucky day.
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
Now for Japanese, is this an unlucky day?
Sakura:
Not really.
Peter:
Yeah. So the point of today’s lesson is we are going to find out what kind of superstition the Japanese people believe in, right?
Sakura:
Right.
Peter:
Now why don’t we let Sakura, the cultural expert, tell us about some Japanese superstitions. Okay this is great I get to listen. Here we go Sakura.
Sakura:
Okay I believe that the #13 is bad luck in western countries.
Peter:
That’s correct.
Sakura:
But in Japan, unlucky numbers are 4 and 9.
Peter:
Four and nine.
Sakura:
Yes because 4 in Japanese is sometimes pronounced し
Peter:
One more time.
Sakura:
Peter:
Yes.
Sakura:
Which means death.
Peter:
Death…
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
I see.
Sakura:
So and 9 is also sometimes pronounced く
Peter:
Okay and give us that pronunciation one more time.
Sakura:
Peter:
Okay.
Sakura:
And this means suffering.
Peter:
Yes. I think one of my friends he told me that the name of the word was 苦しみ. Is that it?
Sakura:
Yes, yes, yes.
Peter:
So can you give us that word one more time?
Sakura:
苦しみ
Peter:
And a little slower.
Sakura:
苦しみ
Peter:
Okay and what does this mean again?
Sakura:
Suffering.
Peter:
Yes so 4 and 9 are the unlucky numbers.
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
So Sakura, you know in the US, some of the old buildings, they don’t have a 13th floor. Is there something like that in Japan?
Sakura:
Yes in like hospitals and some hotels, they don’t have the 4th floor.
Peter:
Really?
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
Wow!
Sakura:
So when you give presents to somebody and like if you want to give a set of like plates or you know set of cups and usually it’s in 3 or 5 normally.
Peter:
Not 4…
Sakura:
But it’s never in 4.
Peter:
Really?
Sakura:
Umm..
Peter:
Now that’s really useful information. So if you are giving presents out there…
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
Be careful not to give in
Sakura:
Four.
Peter:
Yes no 4s out there everybody. Excellent, thank you so much Sakura. So I also heard yeah sometimes in hospitals, they don’t have the room number 4.
Sakura:
That’s right.
Peter:
And I even heard and this is first hand from the doctor friend that sometimes the room – the rooms 40 through 49 are not there.
Sakura:
Ah right. You are right.
Peter:
Okay so again let’s do a little comparison. We will just wrap it up. US, unlucky number is
Sakura:
13
Peter:
Yes and in Japan
Sakura:
4 and also 9.
Peter:
Yes okay. Very, very nice Sakura. Next we have probably one of the most important bad luck symbols in Japan. Right Sakura?
Sakura:
Um.
Peter:
And that would be
Sakura:
霊柩車
Peter:
Yes hearse.
Sakura:
霊柩車
Peter:
Yes very nice, break this down for us.
Sakura:
霊柩車
Peter:
Very nice and by syllable.
Sakura:
れいきゅうしゃ
Peter:
Yes. So if you didn’t catch that out there, you kind of want to hold the two syllables, right?
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
Give it to us one more time?
Sakura:
れいきゅうしゃ
Peter:
Yes you want to hold the れい and then you want to hold the きゅうしゃ
Sakura:
Right.
Peter:
Okay now this is the hearse and this is a very bad luck symbol in Japan right?
Sakura:
Umm…
Peter:
Can you tell us a little more about this?
Sakura:
So if you see a funeral car passing, you should hide your thumb.
Peter:
Really. If you see a funeral car go by..
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
You should hide your thumb?
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
Where?
Sakura:
In your hand.
Peter:
Ah you make a fist with the thumb inside.
Sakura:
Ah yes, yes, that’s right.
Peter:
So you are hiding the thumb. So why would you want to hide the thumb?
Sakura:
Because thumb is parent finger like…
Peter:
The parent?
Sakura:
Literal translation in English would be parent finger.
Peter:
Let’s word from the Japanese. Give us the Japanese name for it.
Sakura:
親指
Peter:
Okay one more time.
Sakura:
親指
Peter:
And break it down a bit.
Sakura:
おやゆび
Peter:
Okay and there is two words in there. Can you give us the two words?
Sakura:
Peter:
Okay and what does this mean?
Sakura:
The parents.
Peter:
Yes I got it now. So that’s the parents and then the second word is
Sakura:
Peter:
Which is
Sakura:
Finger.
Peter:
Yeah so the parent finger, the big guy, the thumb.
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
So when you see the hearse, you are hiding the thumb inside the fist.
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
And what does this symbolize?
Sakura:
So that your parents won’t die.
Peter:
Yeah you are protecting them right?
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
I see. That’s very, very useful and you know and sometimes I did see this on the street and I can never figure it out. Thank you Sakura. Very, very, interesting.
Sakura:
And also like there are many bad luck things related to like funerals and death. Yes…
Peter:
Can you give us another one?
Sakura:
When you attend a funeral and come back before you enter your house…
Peter:
Okay.
Sakura:
You throw salt on yourself.
Peter:
Why?
Sakura:
Salts kind of cleanses things, yes so before you enter your house, you throw salt like when a friend is with you, you throw salt to each other and then when you are by yourself, you throw salt to yourself.
Peter:
Yeah you throw salt on yourself.
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
So the main points are when you go to a funeral and you come back, the key point is before you enter your house…
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
Right?
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
Yes okay and if you go to the funeral alone, you come back home, someone can throw salt on you before you come back in right?
Sakura:
Yes right.
Peter:
And as you said, if it’s two people, you can throw salt on each other.
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
And if it’s one person, right on yourself. As Sakura said, this is a very superstitious theme…
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
In Japan.
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
Okay let’s move on to some other topics. Okay I got one. The black cat is bad luck. When I see a black cat, stop and I wait to see which way he goes so I don’t cross his path. How about in Japan? Are there any lucky or unlucky animals or bugs or something like this?
Sakura:
Actually black cat is also considered bad luck now-a-days but I think it’s imported from – from the west. Yes….
Peter:
Yeah I think so too…
Sakura:
Yes, yes…And also the spider…
Peter:
Okay.
Sakura:
And when you see a spider in your house at night, it’s bad luck and….
Peter:
So what’s the name of this?
Sakura:
夜の蜘蛛
Peter:
Okay break this down.
Sakura:
夜の蜘蛛
Peter:
Okay and there is a couple of words in there. Can you give us those?
Sakura:
Peter:
One more time, break it down.
Sakura:
よる
Peter:
And what’s this?
Sakura:
This is night.
Peter:
Okay and..
Sakura:
Peter:
の I remember this. We did this on Thursday.
Sakura:
Oh yes, that’s right.
Peter:
And
Sakura:
It’s possession.
Peter:
Possessive yeah.
Sakura:
Or possessive.
Peter:
Yes.
Sakura:
夜の would mean at night..
Peter:
Yes.
Sakura:
And 蜘蛛 is spider.
Peter:
Yeah so night spider. That’s a literal translation, night spider.
Sakura:
Right.
Peter:
But translate it into English, night spider. So give us the whole expression one more time.
Sakura:
夜の蜘蛛
Peter:
Okay and again, where if we see this is a bad luck?
Sakura:
Inside your house.
Peter:
Yes. Okay so the spider at night is bad luck.
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
Now what about good luck?
Sakura:
And if you see it in the morning, it’s good luck.
Peter:
Now if anybody out there knows why this is, please feel free to let us know.
Sakura:
Umm…
Peter:
Okay next what do you have for us Sakura and this time too, we can say 勉強になりました right Sakura?
Sakura:
Another one that’s related to night, you shouldn’t cut nails at night.
Peter:
Really? You mean clipping nails like your finger or toenails?
Sakura:
Yes clipping…that’s right.
Peter:
You shouldn’t clip them at night, why?
Sakura:
Because if you do that, you won’t be able to be with your parents on their death bed.
Peter:
I see. So when you are clipping your nails, don’t do it at night.
Sakura:
That’s right.
Peter:
I got it. Thank you Sakura 勉強になりました。
Sakura:
Speaking of night, there is also another one that’s related to night is whistling in the night.
Peter:
Okay and tell us about this.
Sakura:
If you whistle at night and a snake will come out.
Peter:
Hah!
Sakura:
Yes, snake will come out.
Peter:
In Japan, they have some poisonous snakes. So we don’t want them coming out.
Sakura:
That’s right.
Peter:
Actually the snakes are kind of in the lower south and the western section of Japan right?
Sakura:
Yeah.
Peter:
What is the name? It’s a very famous snake.
Sakura:
ハブ
Peter:
Yes.
Sakura:
ハブ
Peter:
And one more time please.
Sakura:
ハブ
Peter:
And break it down.
Sakura:
ハブ
Peter:
And this is the Japanese poisonous snake.
Sakura:
Yes it’s one kind of very – it has very strong poison.
Peter:
You don’t want him coming out when you are whistling.
Sakura:
Right.
Peter:
But it’s very ironic because I believe snakes are deaf.
Sakura:
Oh really?
Peter:
Yeah. So umm…
Sakura:
That’s interesting.
Peter:
So that’s very interesting.
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
Well if I am wrong about this, you will see a post on our new comment page but I think I remember from my days in studying at university/discovery in nature channel but anyway or maybe I saw it on the Simpsons. It could have been the Simpsons.
Sakura:
Always Simpsons ね。
Peter:
Okay in the US and I believe in the west, a rabbit foot is kind of very lucky.
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
You know. Now are there any lucky symbols or/and also we have a horseshoe and some other things that are very lucky. Now are there any things/any symbols in Japan that are lucky?
Sakura:
There is a lucky cat symbol called 招き猫
Peter:
Okay wait, wait, wait! One more time and もう一度お願いします。ゆっくり、お願いします。
Sakura:
招き猫
Peter:
もう一度お願いします。
Sakura:
招き猫
Peter:
One more time break it down.
Sakura:
まねきねこ
Peter:
Very nice, one time fast.
Sakura:
招き猫
Peter:
And Sakura, please explain this.
Sakura:
It’s a cat with one pawl up.
Peter:
A real cat.
Sakura:
It’s a doll.
Peter:
Ah!
Sakura:
Yes and some are very small and some are rather big.
Peter:
Yeah.
Sakura:
They often have it in like shops or where they do business.
Peter:
Yeah exclusively commercial right?
Sakura:
Yes, yes because it’s supposed to…
Peter:
Bring in the profit.
Sakura:
Fortune yes.
Peter:
And the fortune.
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
Rrr…Sorry about it, I got a little excited. Umm..give it to us one more time.
Sakura:
招き猫.
Peter:
Okay and you will see these in all kinds of
Sakura:
Yes commercial places.
Peter:
For example restaurants have it?
Sakura:
Restaurants, yes restaurants, shops.
Peter:
But will you see it at a law office or a hospital.
Sakura:
Not really, it’s more related to trade.
Peter:
I see, so at trading district.
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
And what about restaurants?
Sakura:
They may have it.
Peter:
Okay. So when you come to Japan, you are going to see this cat.
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
And he is calling you in. He has got his paw up, he is inviting you in and he is bringing in
Sakura:
Profit.
Peter:
Yes and good fortune to that company.
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
Or business place. Very, very interesting. Okay in the US, we usually tape a dollar bill like the first – the first dollar you make, you put it on the wall. So sometimes you will go into restaurants…
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
And you will see very old dollars.
Sakura:
Really?
Peter:
Yeah.
Sakura:
That’s interesting.
Peter:
Yeah. No, your cat is interesting. It’s very fascinating, this superstition because this is not the type of stuff you come across everyday which is one of the reasons why we want to bring it to you. We want to bring it right to your pocket or right to your computer.
Sakura:
We have one more lucky thing that you would carry.
Peter:
Okay where – in your pocket or where do you carry it?
Sakura:
In your bag or in your purse.
Peter:
Okay and what is this?
Sakura:
It’s called お守り
Peter:
ゆっくり、もう一度お願いします。
Sakura:
お守り
Peter:
By syllable.
Sakura:
おまもり
Peter:
Okay and what’s the word in there? Can you break this down, explain this to us please Sakura, help us understand.
Sakura:
Okay. It means something that will protect you.
Peter:
Yes.
Sakura:
Yes and the word for it is 守る so お守り is something that protects.
Peter:
Something that protects you. Okay what kind of お守り do they have in Japan?
Sakura:
They have different types of お守り. Some are for success in business or study and some are for curing illness.
Peter:
I see.
Sakura:
Preventing traffic accidents.
Peter:
Yes.
Sakura:
And you can buy them in at shrines.
Peter:
Okay so you buy them at shrines.
Sakura:
Right.
Peter:
And now some shrines are geared towards specific things right?
Sakura:
Umm yes.
Peter:
I heard some shrines specialize in some things. Is that correct?
Sakura:
Yes, yes.
Peter:
Can you give us an example?
Sakura:
In Tokyo, there is a famous shrine called 水天宮
Peter:
Okay stop!
Sakura:
Okay.
Peter:
ゆっくり。
Sakura:
水天宮
Peter:
And break it down by syllable.
Sakura:
すいてんぐう
Peter:
Yes one time fast.
Sakura:
水天宮
Peter:
And what’s this?
Sakura:
This is for healthy and safe birth. So when you get pregnant, you sometimes go to 水天宮 to pray and maybe get an お守り for safe birth.
Peter:
And you would carry that with you?
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
Very, very interesting. Okay Sakura again, 今日も勉強になりました. Today also, I learned a lot. Thank you very much Sakura.
Sakura:
どういたしまして。
Peter:
Uhh what was that?
Sakura:
You are welcome.
Peter:
Can you give us that, break it down one more time.
Sakura:
どういたしまして。
Peter:
And break it down by word? Please break it down by word?
Sakura:
どう いたしまして
Peter:
Okay and by syllable.
Sakura:
どう、いたしまして。
Peter:
And one time fast.
Sakura:
どういたしまして。
Peter:
Okay so let’s try this. Sakura, 今日も勉強になりました。ありがとうございます。
Sakura:
どういたしまして。
OUTRO
Peter:
Very nice, okay. So that’s going to wrap it up for today. I hope you guys enjoyed this lesson. I know I really enjoyed this one. You know, we cannot stress enough how much culture will help you overcome some language difficulties or help you understand the language that much more. Right Sakura?
Sakura:
Yes.
Peter:
You really cannot stress how much culture is involved in the language itself. So thank you again Sakura.
Sakura:
どういたしまして。
Peter:
Okay and we will see you tomorrow.
Sakura:
また明日ね。
Peter:
Be sure to stop by japanesepod101.com and check out the premium learning center. Inside we have material to bring everything you learned in the lesson together. Flashcards, quizzes really consolidate what you learned in today’s lesson. Stop by, say hi and be sure to leave us a post.

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JapanesePod101.com
Saturday at 5:30 am
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皆様 お元気ですか? Hope you liked today’s lesson. I really enjoyed this one, as I found out some really interesting things in researching it. Please let us know about any superstitions unique to your country!

April 29th, 2017 at 4:00 pm
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Hi Savannah,
Thank you for the comment and sorry I didn’t reply sooner.

Your story is very interesting.
I like watching movies from Western countries and sometimes couldn’t get what they are talking about because of the culture difference😅

Keep studying with JapanesePod101.com
Cheers,
Miki(美希)
Team JapanesePod101.com

Savannah
December 11th, 2016 at 9:58 am
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Today I learned that Peter doesn’t know how to pronounce “hearse”.😛

Savannah
December 11th, 2016 at 9:57 am
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The apartment building my grandma lives in doesn’t have a 13th floor. My grandma lives on the 14th floor… Which is technically the 13th floor, since it’s the one right above 12! I think it’s silly. Just because you slap a different number on it doesn’t change the fact that it’s the 13th floor!

In Western culture, some people like to “knock on wood” if someone brings up something bad happening, especially if you are expressing relief that it didn’t or hasn’t happened. Expressing relief for something bad not happening is considered jinxing yourself and guaranteeing it will happen, so you knock on wood to undo the jinx. A good example is in the movie Home Alone 2, when Mr. and Mrs. McCallister are talking to an officer about losing Kevin again, and then they say, “Oddly enough, we’ve never lost our luggage!” Right after saying that, they both knock on the wooden desk so that they won’t actually lose their luggage. We like to do this in my family as well (even I do it, and I’m not superstitious).

My aunt is pretty superstitious about some things; once, when we crossed a black cat, she wanted me to knock on wood, and she got mad when I wouldn’t. I’m not superstitious, and I won’t support bad luck superstitions towards animals.

@Robert I think that’s just for dramatic effect. They do similar things in Western media too.

August 29th, 2016 at 6:51 pm
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George san,
Konnichiwa.
You know many!😮
I didn’t know many of them.
Yuki 由紀
Team JapanesePod101.com

George
August 24th, 2016 at 8:07 am
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I don’t like it when I see a rekyuusha either.
But I don’t do anything with my thumb, though.
I probably should have.
Both of my parents might still be alive.

I never cut my nails at night either.
But I didn’t know that was the reason.
I thought that meant the snakes would come or something.
I forget but I still don’t do it.

Watashi no Okasan was Nihonjin so I grew up with a lot of Nihon no superstition.
1. Once you sit down to eat somewhere, don’t change your seat or it means you will be married twice.
2. Don’t take the trash out of your front door (unless you only have one door) or you won’t have any money.
3. If you drop a fork at the dinner table (chopsticks?) that means someone is coming over.
4. If your nose itches, someone is coming.
5. If your ear itches, someone is talking about you.
6. If someone is laying on the floor and you walk over their legs, cross back over them and then walk around.
7. If you don’t like something, (like on paper) tear it up, spit on it and throw it away.
8. If you have a bad dream, tell someone. If you have a good dream, don’t tell anyone.
a. Dreaming of blood means you will get money.
b. Dreaming of snow falling is the best kind of dream you can have.
c. If it’s raining in your dream, you are going to get sick in real life.
d. If you dream you lose a tooth, someone is going to die.
9. How things go on New Year’s Day will determine what the rest of the year will be like.
10. If you give something away, that’s ok. But if you lose something then that’s bad luck.
11. You can’t go to a cemetery after 3pm.
12. Don’t name your kid after a close relative or in-law that had a bad misfortune, accident, etc.
I’ve forgotten so many of them.

Once I had the flu and my Japanese grandmother put a sheet over while I knelt on the ground. She wielded a very big knife over me from behind. After she did that for a few minutes saying stuff, she took the sheet off of me and burned it on the ground. It might have gotten rid of the evil spirits but I still had the flu a few more days.

George
August 24th, 2016 at 7:27 am
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Very nice. Break it down.
Very nice. Break it down.
Very nice. Break it down.

July 4th, 2016 at 5:21 pm
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Bruce san,
Konnnichiwa. 😄
Thank you for your post.
I see. That is interesting.
Yuki 由紀
Team JapanesePod101.com

Bruce
June 17th, 2016 at 3:32 am
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In my country it is also bad luck to whistle at night.:thumbsup:

October 6th, 2014 at 3:39 pm
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Robert-san,
konnichiwa.

We do have some superstition-like “signs” we consider as bad (there are also some good).
Breaking something and/or something getting cracks are often considered as bad omen.
However, this is just a matter of linking bad things to another bad thing (which possibly would happen).

If someone are about to take an important exam (most often university entry exam, high school entry exam,
professional qualification exam, etc.), we try to avoid the word/verb “ochiru” (= to fall) because this
is the verb we use to say “fail” to pass the exam. From this idea, if you drop something while your close
someone is taking (or about to take) an important test, you might not feel comfortable.
Another word/verb we avoid for the same meaning is “suberu” (= to slip) for the same reason.

Hope this answers to what you were wondering😉

Natsuko (奈津子),
Team JapanesePod101.com

Robert
October 2nd, 2014 at 5:11 am
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I have a question on what I believe to be a bad omen that I have seen several times in anime but have never been able to verify.

When a character experiences something bad, the animators usually cut to a scene with someone close to that character experiencing something break or crack, usually as a sign to that person that something bad has happened. Is this a real omen in Japan, and if it is, what does it mean exactly?