Hospital Visits and Potted Plants

A close Japanese friend of mine was hospitalized the other day. I’m thinking of taking some flowers when visiting him, but I was told that I shouldn’t take poted plants. Could you tell me why is that so?

(Francois/ France)

There appear to be many Japanesewho avoid taking potted plants when paying a visit to someone who is injured or ill. The reason is very simple. Potted plants have roots, don’t they? That is to say, they take root. The verb “take root (netsuku)” is a homonym for the verb “be laid up (eith an illness-netsuku).” That is why it is thought to be unlucky.


Of course, this is just a superstition; there are many people who don’t care at all. But anyone tends to become weaker and more sensitive when he is ill. And what’s more, even though most people say they don’t care about superstitions, they do seem to stay at the back of one’s mind most of the time. Unless you are perfectly sure that your friend loves plants and would be delighted with your present, I think it would be better to avoid taking such a gift.

What’s more , cut flowers which have gay colors have more of a brigthening-up effect on the hospital ward. They’re also more convenient, not adding to the luggage when the person leaves the hospital. Wouldn’t you feel a bit reluctant to get rid of a living plant, when you’ve finally recovered your health yourself?


Source: The Nihongo journal (Monthly Maret 1988) page 110-111