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Puns, Poetry, and Superstition: Japanese HomophonesRichard Medhurst

Wordplay is not always welcomed openly in Japan. Make a weak, but harmless pun—observing that there is “no ginger” (shōga nai) at the sushi restaurant and saying “it cannot be helped” (shō ga nai), for example—and listeners will greet it with shivers, as if a chill wind has just passed through. The standard retort to a “dad joke” or another attempt at humor that falls flat is samui, “ooh, that’s…

Mystical Impressions: Views of Luck in Japan and AbroadEhab Ahmed Ebeid

Superstitions lurk in every culture. Whether people try to avoid opening an umbrella indoors, crossing paths with a black cat, spilling coffee, or clipping their nails after dark, their beliefs are positioned as mental guards against the malicious forces of the unseen. Western cultures attach a strong stigma to the number 13, although the roots of this aversion are hard to pin down. Some believ…

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