“Green” appears to be an unpopular color in Japan. Indeed some believe it to be unlucky – red and white are Japan’s lucky colors. Green’s unpopularity is truly a mystery. Don’t misunderstand me, one can find “green” in the country, however, green is often mixed with other more prominent colors; green as the only color is unusual. Rarely does one see a green car, although this is slowly changing. Children action heroes, like the famous “deki-Ranger troop” are all dressed in colorful uniforms void of green. In many cases, the word green is substituted by the word “Ao” (blue).
The following is a short list of some of the green items labeled “blue”.
- Ao nori (a dried edible seaweed).
- Ao ringo (a green apple).
- Ao-ba (the green leaves and trees of summer).
- Ao denki ( a green traffic light).
- Ao mushi (children’s book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” – by Eric Carle; the caterpillar is green).
Why the Japanese refer to many “green” objects as blue really is a conundrum. If you were to ask a Japanese person why he or she refers to green nori as “blue nori” the answer will, no doubt be, “It is part of our culture” – not exactly the answer you were looking for, huh? There are various theories for Japanese using blue instead of green, unfortunately the true reason is unknown.