“Green” in Japan.

“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”.

  1. Ao nori (a dried edible seaweed).
  2. Ao ringo (a green apple).
  3. Ao-ba (the green leaves and trees of summer).
  4. Ao denki ( a green traffic light).
  5. 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.

A "blue" light.

"Blue" nori sprinkled on Okonomiyaki.


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