Fact#18. An inauspicious color?


JinK:  Bishop-san, have you ever thought about colors?

Bishop:  What do you mean? That’s out of left field.

JinK:  I guess it was a vague question. I’m talking about the bathroom tiles in my house…

Bishop:  What about the tiles?

JinK:  The tiles have black-colored edges.

Bishop:  Is there a problem with the color black?

JinK:  There are a lot of ways to interpret the color black, but it’s not considered

a very auspicious color in Japan.

Bishop:  Oh really?

JinK:  For example, the frames surrounding portraits of the deceased are black,

and a black cat crossing your path is considered unlucky. So I think Japanese

people would never frame an everyday picture in a black frame.

Bishop:  I can understand that. Black does bring up dark images, like Batman.

JinK:  But in the U.S. I see black photo frames, and black is used in plates and

other everyday things. It doesn’t feel right to me.

Bishop:  Certainly. Black is the color used at funerals, so it can be seen as

an inauspicious color in the U.S. as well. But black can also be used to convey

a sense of classiness.

JinK:  Oh really?

Bishop:  Yes. It’s said that using a simple color scheme can add a sense of classiness.

If you bring that to the extreme, you get black and white. Really colorful things

tend to feel cheap or like they are for children.

JinK:  I see. We also have black and white, “mono-tone” design as well.

But black-colored edges wouldn’t fly in Japan.

Bishop:  But isn’t the logo for the delivery company in Japan a black cat?

JinK:  Good point. You’re talking about the logo with the black cat carrying the kitten

in its mouth. The meaning behind that is that they will take care of your package

with just as much care as a mother cat takes in carrying its own kitten.

To be pedantic about it, actually black cats are said to carry good luck, so

when a black cat crosses your path they will carry your good luck away from you.

So the delivery service delivers the luck directly to the recipient.

Bishop:  I see.

JinK:  By the way, are there any colors you shouldn’t use in the U.S.?

Bishop:  Hmmm, well there is one important thing. If you go into gang territory,

avoid wearing either red or blue.

JinK:  Oh really? Why is that?

Bishop:  The two most famous gangs in the U.S. are the Bloods and the Crips,

and they wear red and blue respectively.  If you go into the wrong neighborhood,

you can actually get shot for wearing the wrong color if they think you

belong to a rival gang.

JinK:  Wow, that’s scary. I think I’ll stay away from those neighborhoods anyway, but

I need to be careful.

Bishop:  You should. Other than that, I can’t think of any “bad” colors. The U.S. is

an ethnic melting pot, so pretty much any colors are acceptable.

It’s a free country after all.

JinK:  That’s probably true. In Japan, purple is seen as the color of nobility.

So medal ribbons and such tend to be purple. What about in the U.S.?

Bishop:  I wonder…

JinK:  Personally, I like orange…

Bishop:  Orange? Hmmm, not sure about that…

JinK:  You’re probably right. I mean, it is the color of the American prison uniform.

Nobody wears it, so I have stopped wearing it too.

Bishop:  Well there are differences in the east and west coasts as well. It’s hard to say.

JinK:  Maybe so.

Bishop:  Actually now that I think about it, formal wear in Japan is black.

Hakamas worn at weddings are too. So you could say that black is a good color in Japan too.

JinK:  That’s a good point. I guess I’ll get in a solemn mood when I shower from now on (LOL)

Fact#18.   Black colored edges are considered to be inauspicious in Japan

by Bishop & JinK.

PS. Please feel free to make comments below if you have comments or questions about the facts between the US and Japan or on each country. We will incorporate your questions in one of the subtle, but amazing facts, if that would be helpful for you to understand cultural differences between the two countries.  Any subtle, but amazing facts between your country and the US/Japan would be also welcome.

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