For most moms/dads-to-be, guessing the gender of the coming baby is very exciting. Of course, you will know it by a particular medical check up like a blood test or an ultrasound examination. But there are a bunch of old wives’ tales around the world when it comes to gender prediction. We, Japanese, also have some. Let’s take a look!
The shape of the stomach
If the pregnant woman’s tummy sticks out in front, she’ll have a baby boy, and will have a baby girl if it spreads sideways. It doesn’t have any scientific evidence. The shape of the stomach depends on the shape of the pelvis.
The change of the mom’s face
You will have a baby boy when your facial expression becomes tighter. On the other hand, you will have a girl when you look softer. If the coming baby is a boy, it seems that male hormones increase in the blood of the mother and the appearance could change.
It’s said bad morning sickness brings you a baby girl. On the contrary, some people say it’ll be a boy when you have severe morning sickness.
It’ll be a boy when the woman is craving salty or spicy food, and will be a girl if she wants to eat sweets.
Those above are just superstitions and have no medical basis. But the funniest thing is that those are pretty much similar in the US. If you’re from other countries, do you have any other old wives’ tales? Next, I’d like to introduce some ways to know the gender of the coming baby.
God only knows
In Kyoto, almost all pregnant women visit “Wara Tenjin” shrine and pray for a safe delivery. The official name of the shrine is “Shikichi-jinja.” “Wara” means straw. When you visit there and pay a prayer fee, you are given a piece of straw within an amulet. It’s said that if the straw has a knot, you’ll have a baby boy, and if it doesn’t, you’ll have a girl. That’s why this shrine is called “Wara Tenjin.”
Wara Tenjin is dedicated to Princess Konohana-sakuya, or コノハナサクヤヒメ(木花咲耶姫) who got pregnant overnight and gave birth to three children one after another. Thus, it is considered to be beneficial to visit the shrine and pray for safe delivery, childbirth, and marriage nationwide. Especially on Dog Day, the shrine is crowded with women who are in the 5th month of their pregnancy and their families.
What is Dog Day and why is it beneficial to pray for a safe delivery on Dog Day?
Dog Day is the zodiac of the date that comes every 12 days. You may have seen a small chinese character in the corner of the date field on Japanese calendars. Dogs are considered to be prolific and have an easy birth, that’s why pregnant women pray for a safe delivery on Dog Day. This custom has been passed down from ancient times in Japan.
When you pay a prayer fee, you are given an amulet with “hara obi(腹帯)” or an abdominal girth. In Japan, it is a custom for a mom-to-be to start wrapping their stomach with hara obi from the first Dog Day of their 5th month, that means just after the 20th week of pregnancy.
What is “hara obi”?
Hara obi or the abdominal girth is originally a wide strip of cotton cloth to wrap around a pregnant woman’s abdomen. It has many roles, such as to keep the baby from an impact or bump, to keep mom’s stomach warm, or to prevent mom from getting back pain or bad posture. Nowadays, there are many kinds of girths which are easy to put on.
Shikichi Jinja Shrine (Wara Tenjin Shrine) (敷地神社/わら天神宮）
There are other temples and shrines where you can pray for a safe delivery nationwide.
One more example is Nakayama-dera temple. The temple is located in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture. It’s dedicated to the eleven faced Kanzeon Bosatsu statue which is carved based on the fact that Mrs. Shree Marler of India wishes to rescue women. It’s said that the statue excludes the pain of gestation and delivery. In addition to the belief of women, in the old days Yukitsuna Minamoto and Hideyoshi Toyotomi also wished for their succession, and since they safely received their baby, the temple has become more famous as a temple for childbirth and easy delivery.
After you pray for a safe delivery here, you will be gifted a girth. There is a jinx that a child of the opposite gender to the one written on the girth will be born .
Do you believe those old wive’s tales and jinxes? No matter how trustworthy they are, it is definitely exciting to think about the coming baby! Stay safe and Take care, moms-to-be!
A physical therapist in charge of rehabilitation at a hospital. I was born and raised in Ichijoji, Kyoto. My dream is to practice rehabilitation with foreign patients in fluent English so as to make them feel comfortable and at ease.