size: 15 x 10 cm / 4 x 6″ approx.
medium: cut and torn paper on kihagaki (wooden postcard)
Every culture and country have their superstitions, and Japan is no exception. In fact, after spending a couple hundred years creating unique superstitions based on their own experiences and the animistic religion, Shintoism, they sent away to the mainland for a whole new set that came along with Buddhist culture. Then, when that wasn’t enough, a bunch more were imported from the rest of the world. So, in addition to having to avoid the number 4 (the pronounciation is “shi” which is the word for death) and not sticking your o-hashi (chopsticks) into a bowl of rice, you also have to keep your eyes peeled for stray black cats. Staying lucky takes alot of work.
One of my favorite superstitions is the admonition against whistling at night. Apparently it brings snakes runni…er…slithering. I read here that snakes is a metaphor for thieves. Considering how closely packed the houses are in Japan, it may have just been a convenient way to scare the kids into silence at night.