Japanese Superstitions: Love and Dating

Love is in the air…! Well, it’s February, which means it’s Valentine’s month! (Yes, month. It seems to last almost as long as Christmas these days.) While I’m not really into Valentine’s itself, YJ and have our proper-dating anniversary this month! ^^ (In fact, it’s todayーFeb 2ndーreally easy to remember!) To celebrate this month of luuurve, I’ll be posting something lovey-dovey each Monday. Next week will be a guide to Valentine’s Day in Japan, and the week after will feature some of Japan’s epic love stories. But for now, superstitions and hocus-pocus to do (or avoid!) to make sure your love lasts. You know, apart from being kind, thoughtful and so on. ^^; 

Onto Japanese Superstitions: Love and Dating! <3

 The Good

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 A couple that witnesses the turning off of Tokyo Tower’s lights at night will stay together forever.

This is one of my favorite stories! Rumor has it that if a couple manages to catch the lights turning off at midnight, they’ll be blessed with a lasting love. The best part is, that Tokyo Tower used to only turn off the lights at midnight for maintenance. But with this rumor going, people kept asking about the lights and why they didn’t turn off when they went. (“Are we not meant to be together?!”) So Tokyo Tower did what any romantic would do, and now turns off the lights precisely at midnightーjust for all the couples standing outside waiting. (And then turns them back on half an hour later! Isn’t that fantastic!?)

Couples that hook a padlock on the fence by Enoshima’s 恋人の丘 (Koibito no Oka – Lover’s Hill) will find their love unchanged through the years.

This one feels more like the couple has to make some effort to doーthey don’t exactly sell padlocks around the corner. Rather than a superstition, it seems it’s more of a declaration of love. Nearby Enoshima Shrine is famous for 縁結び (enmusubi – love/fate knowーmarriage) so there’s definitely love (and scary Black Kites (<-the bird)) in the air. Seriously, don’t walk and eat anywhere near Enoshima or on the beachーthose birds will dive and steal food right out of your hand. But, I digress.

Ring the 愛の鐘 (ai no kane – bell of love) three times at Shizuoka’s 恋人岬 (koibito misaki – lover’s cape) and your love will vibrate across the land.

Or something like that. It’s a pretty popular date spot, unsurprisingly.

Witnessing a solar eclipse together means your love will last forever.

There are a lot of superstitions involving ringsーbecause there is no “end” on a ring/circle, it goes on for eternity. And so will your love, if you see that ring that appears when the eclipse is as its peak!

The Bad

It's over!

 A couple that rides a swan boat together at Inokashira Park in Tokyo is destined to break up.*

This one has a couple of origins. One is that it’s due to a curse by a jealous 弁才天 (bezaiten – Buddhist god of wealth, music, eloquence and water) . The other is that a brokenhearted girl once drowned herself there. Another theory (a little bit more scientific, if you will) is that women will unconsciously keep tabs on how their partner steers the boatーif he sends them bumping into people or things, then she won’t be able to trust him to take care of their future. Exception: There’s one male swan boat on the lake, and that one is supposedly exempt from the curse.

*An alternative version is that couples riding *any* kind of boat on that lake will break up. Eep!

If you go to Tokyo Disneyland on a date, it’s over between you

Well, that one kind of sucks but is also understandable. One blog says that while most couples won’t say goodbye there, many do and there are some reasons: It’s too expensive, the couple gets tired and cranky, there’s lots of eye candy that isn’t your partner, the guy will get lost. (<-This last one is very important, because girls will often go on a girls’ day out together, so they’ll already know their way around, ha!)

 The Kind of Weird

White Cats

(These are the ones I’ve heard from friends and I can’t really find any greater legends or stories attached. They just seem to be lucky or unlucky.)


  • If you’re on a date and the first snow of the year starts falling, you’ll be happy.
  • If you see a white cat on your date, you’ll be on good terms forever.
  • Put a lace handkerchief under your pillow the night before a date and sleep on it. Bring it with you on the date and whatever you wished for in your sleep will come true.


  • If you use scissors or a paper cutter on the day of your date, you’ll get dumped. (Cutting ties and whatnot.)
  • Ride a roller coaster together on your first date and you’ll break up. (Especially if you vomit on your date, hurhur)
  • Get in any boat on *any* lake where a 弁天さま(benten-sama (goddess of arts and wisdom)) resides and you’ll get in a fight. (These gods and goddess are a jealous bunch, aren’t they?)
  • Take a photo together in front of the gorilla pen at a zoo is bad. (This one intrigues me to no end, because no one can tell me what happens. They just say “Don’t do it!” Will it lead to rude comments like “The gorilla is cuter than you!” and just escalate from there?)

 These are just some of the love superstitions I’ve read about/heard while I’ve been here. What’s the oddest superstition about love and dating you’ve ever heard?

16 responses to “Japanese Superstitions: Love and Dating”

  1. Pui Ki says:

    I love this article Lisa. I am too tired to make an intelligent comment right now but it was an interesting read! Especially the riding the boat in the lake part. (I obviously am procrastinating from lesson planning…)

    • Ri says:

      Haha, feel free to procrastinate here anytime! 😉 How’s life treating you back at home? Must be nice to be in the warmth againーjealous! ^^)b

  2. Hila-Ri says:

    Hey you love birds! Hubs and I aren’t into V Day but growing up, my dad always bought my mom, sis and I flowers. I didn’t think much of it then but I really appreciate the effort now. So, I’ve been trying to tweet a few of your posts including this one and the link isn’t working??
    Hila-Ri recently posted…Podcast #32: train tickets, veg & spreads and dentist visits – Japan/Canada differences again!

    • Ri says:

      Awww how sweet of your dad to think of the ladies in his life. 🙂
      Of course it’s mostly a commercial holiday and so on, but at the same time it’s a good trigger for loving acts that may get forgotten in the daily grind.

      Do you mean with the photos in the post, or the links at the top/bottom of the page? I’ve just tested now and it seems to work fine. Are you sure the apps have been allowed to access your Twitter so you can post? Or sharing in a different way? Let me know and I’ll see what I can do!

  3. Marta says:

    Uhm I don’t think I know any love-related superstitions… Or at least I can’t remember!

    I loved your comment about the roller coaster. But if you puke on the guy and he still wants to keep seeing you then you have to marry him! Haha!
    Marta recently posted…Our short-distance relationship

  4. My husband and I went to Disneyland many years ago but it was the one in Florida, not Tokyo (so lucky we did go to the one in Japan)! haha

    This is a very fun post! I think every place has its beliefs and superstitions about love.

    And now I have some hints of what to do in Tokyo to keep our love locked together!!
    Constance – Foreign Sanctuary recently posted…Taking a Plane: What it is like to Fly with My Canadian Wife

    • Ri says:

      Ahh yes, Florida should be safe from the curse, haha! XD
      Do you know any superstitions about love in Taiwan? (is it an upcoming post perhaps? 😀 )

  5. Yocelyn says:

    This was a fun post! OMG I really want to know what happens if you do take a picture in front of the gorilla pen. D:<

    • Ri says:

      I knoooow! The suspense is killing me! I’m going to ask around some more and hopefully will update on what happens. Maybe the gorilla gets angry? Maybe it’s not even allowed?! 😮

  6. Nina says:

    These were so interesting and fun to read 😀 thanks for sharing~
    Nina recently posted…treat yo’self.

  7. These are interesting, thanks for sharing! I love Valentine’s day in Japan… I love looking at the chocolate. I look forward to more lovey-posts and happy dating anniversary!

    There is a fancy illumination in downtown Sendai and I when I nonchalantly mentioned wanting to go, he insisted that it’s bad luck for our relationship.

    I dunno, I figure it was more like he didn’t want to go all the way into Sendai to hold hands in a cold park, but I’m not holding it against him. “Date spots” aren’t really a thing where I’m from, I honestly can’t think of anything other than restaurants. I think it’s interesting that Japan has places designated for couples though.
    Miyagi Mermaid recently posted…The Good News 1:22

    • Ri says:

      Yes, there are so many fun chocolate-making sets and packages, aren’t there? I remember seeing golf and soccer-themed ones once… ^^
      Thank you! <3 We ate too much Brazilian-style beefーwas great!

      Oh, I think I know the illumination you meanーit's quite famous, right? Good point about the "date spots"ーnow that I think about it, it's usually restaurants or cafes in Sweden too... Oh, and lately those experience packages (going parachuting, rally car driving etc) are popular I guess, but that's usually a big expense so not something you can do often.

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