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Lesson Transcript

Eric: Hello and welcome to Culture Class: Japanese Superstitions and Beliefs, Lesson 1. Hearses and Upright Floating Tea Stalks. I'm Eric and I'm joined by Risa.
Risa: こんにちは!(konnichiwa!) Hi, I'm Risa.
Eric: In this lesson we will talk about two common superstitions in Japan. The first superstition is about bad luck. What’s the superstition called in Japanese?
Risa: 霊柩車, (れいきゅうしゃ, Reikyū-sha).
Eric: Which literally means "hearse." Risa, can you repeat the Japanese phrase again?
Risa: [slow] 霊柩車 [normal] 霊柩車
Eric: In Japan, it's believed that if you see a funeral car passing, you should hide your thumb in your fist.
Risa: It's because in Japanese, the thumb is called the "parent finger."
Eric: So, by hiding your thumb, it’s like you’re protecting your parents from dying.
Risa: Right. Hiding your thumb is not bad luck.
Eric: I see. This superstition is about preventing bad luck from happening.
Risa: Exactly!
Eric: The second superstition is about good luck. What’s the superstition called in Japanese?
Risa: 茶柱, (ちゃばしら, Chabashira).
Eric: Which literally means "upright-floating tea stalk." Let’s hear it in Japanese again.
Risa: [slow] 茶柱 [normal] 茶柱
Eric: In Japan, it's believed that it's a sign of good luck to have a tea stalk floating vertically in your green tea.
Risa: It's because in Japanese, an upright-floating tea stalk is called a "pillar of tea."
Eric: An upright-floating tea stalk is reminiscent of the central pillar in a house.
Risa: It’s a sign that your family will have peace and prosperity.
Eric: I’ve been drinking tea made from tea bags, but I’ll have to switch. Maybe my luck will change too.
Risa: It can’t hurt.


Eric: There you have it - two Japanese superstitions! Are they similar to any of your country’s superstitions? Let us know in the comments!
Risa: またね!(matane!)