Staff: Take your time. Japanese guest: But, the number reads shikyuu (urgent). Staff: Are you concerned about room numbers? Japanese guest: I am, because it’s an unlucky number. Staff: Well then, room 53 is available. Japanese guest: This time it’s the garbage room is it? Staff: I’m sorry. How about room 39? Japanese guest: Good. Thank you. Manga Explanation (Scene 1. ) The number four in room number 49 is pronounced shi and the number 9, kyuu. Together they form the word shikyuu (urgent). The hotel receptionist said goyukkuri (this literally means “take your time”). So, it is contradictory. (Scene 2. ) The receptionist thinks that the guest is concerned about numbers. In Japan, both the numbers shi (four) and kyuu (nine) are considered to be unlucky numbers. The number four can be pronounced the same as the word for death (shi), and nine (kyuu) as the word for suffering (the other reading of nine is ku which is also pronounced in the same way as suffering). (Scene 3. ) The numeral five is read as go, and three can be read as mi or mittsu besides san. Put together, they form the word gomi (garbage). (Scene 4. ) The number 39 is pronounced similarly to the English word “Thank you.” Japanese people like wordplay using numerals.
Explore Japanese culture with Hiragana TimesSubscribe