Masatoshi Takara 

Genkatsugi, superstitions to beat finals blues

90% of the semester can be summed up as one big adventurous journey to dreaded finals.  Besides working hard and drinking a lot of coffee, do students at the University of Tokyo do anything superstitious or original to help boost their grades?

I’m a firm believer that irrational behavior can affect the outcome of a test score. My weird superstition is wearing a shirt and tie on test days ever since I aced the SATs and ACTs(Standardized American Tests).  Let’s take a look at what silly superstitions Todai students follow.

Finals blues…..

Finals blues…..

Ai Takahashi, a first year student, informed me that these superstitions are called Genkatsugi: the belief that imagining and acting out positive scenarios by various actions will lead to positive outcomes. Although Ms. Takahashi is not a firm believer in Genkatsugi she is inclined to drink milk tea and eat chocolates to keep her glucose levels up on test day. There is also wordplay in Japan where “Kit-Kats” the popular wafer chocolate candy is interpreted into “Kitto-Katsu”, which means “will surely win”. She is persuaded to eat some near or on test day because it can’t hurt to get every little bit of help.

Kazuki Sakurai , a second year student, eats the popular Japanese snack “ka-ru” which wordplays with the Japanese word “Ukaru” which means to pass or succeed. Mr. Sakurai said that he also participated in the well-known practice of eating “Katsu-Don” before test days. This is because “Katsu”, which means pork, has the same spelling as the word win. It must have worked for him because he ate it the day before his entrance examination for Todai! I’m sure it wasn’t the quality hours of hard work and relentless studying that paid off…

Jun Adachi, a third year student over at Hongo Campus said that his usual routine before a test includes lots of studying in an environment that calms him down. His place of choice was Starbucks. Mariko Kawai, a second year student, wears her favorite pajamas the night before tests and wake up extra early to do her hair. She says “I like to look good when taking my tests.”

These are various ways students try and gain a small advantage for finals week but remember, what makes the biggest difference is studying. Tomomi Amakawa, a graduate student, said that she ended up using her energy to procrastinate by updating her blog and LinkedIn the week before finals. As a wise man once said “Studying doesn’t suck nearly as much as failing.” Good luck with finals everybody…I should get back to studying.


One thought on “Genkatsugi, superstitions to beat finals blues

  1. And some times, following Genkatsugi does affect the outcome, because it acts as a ritual to change one’s mental state from ordinal one to an altered state suited for a specific purpose.
    When you wear a shirt and a tie (and when Mariko does her hair), you’re dancing Haka before the battle.

    Good luck with your exams!

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