Saturday, June 18, 2011


What do Japanese people do with lost baby teeth? In my childhood, I had a habit of keeping mylost teeth in a treasure box. I don't know why I did such a thing, but it is the custom in Japan to throw lost teeth (particularly baby teeth) onto the roof, so I researched about this.

I learned that the place where we throw them changes according to where the tooth came from, the upper or lower jaw. There are a few differences between the various areas, but if it was a upper tooth, we throw the tooth under the house, the sink, the waterspout, or the floor. If it was a lower tooth, we throw the tooth onto the roof or just upward saying, "may it become a sparrow's tooth!" or "may it grow faster than a demon's tooth!." So, there are a few differences between the areas where we throw lost teeth and what to say, but I tend to think this custom began from people's wish for healthy teeth.

On the other hand, there is the Western folk belief that if you sleep with a lost tooth under your pillow, then a fairy or a mouse will bring money for the lost tooth. That's why they cherish their lost teeth. In western countries, a coffret for keeping lost teeth (which is called a "tooth case") is sold, and we have also seen them at the Japanese variety stores over these past several years.  That means western customs for lost teeth are being absorbed into Japanese culture.



抜けた乳歯を保管するための入れ物(Tooth Case)等もあり、ここ数年日本でも雑貨店等で目にすることが多くなっており、抜けた乳歯に対する欧米式の風習が広がりつつあるということなのだろう。

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