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Why do Japanese keep umbilical cord?

Why do Japanese keep umbilical cord?


Japanese culture is known for its unique traditions and customs. One such custom that may seem strange to outsiders is the practice of keeping the newborn’s umbilical cord. While it may seem odd, the Japanese have been practicing this tradition for centuries. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this tradition and what it signifies.

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The Significance of the Umbilical Cord

The umbilical cord connects the mother to her unborn child, supplying it with nutrients and oxygen. In many cultures, it is seen as a symbol of life and sustenance. The Japanese believe that keeping the umbilical cord is an important way to honor the connection between mother and child.

The Belief in Ancestral Spirits

In Japan, there is a strong belief in ancestral spirits or “kami.” These spirits are believed to watch over and protect the family. Keeping the umbilical cord is believed to help connect the child to their ancestors and bring them good luck and fortune.

The Connection to Nature

Japan is known for its love of nature, and many traditional practices are based on a deep respect for the environment. The umbilical cord is seen as a natural object that connects the child to the earth and all living things. It symbolizes the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

The Role of Shintoism

Shintoism is a religion that originated in Japan and is based on a belief in spirits or “kami” that inhabit all things, both living and non-living. Shintoism emphasizes the importance of purity and cleanliness, and keeping the umbilical cord is seen as a way to maintain this purity.

A Connection to Traditional Medicine

In traditional Japanese medicine, the umbilical cord plays an important role in promoting health and well-being. It is believed that by preserving the umbilical cord, it can be used later in life to promote healing and prevent illness.

A Symbol of Family Unity

In Japan, family ties are very important, and keeping the umbilical cord is seen as a way to strengthen these bonds. By preserving this physical connection between mother and child, it symbolizes their unbreakable bond and commitment to each other.

A Way to Remember Birth Details

Keeping the umbilical cord can also serve as a way to remember important details about the birth. In Japan, it is common for parents to keep a record book of their child’s growth milestones, including details about their birth weight, height, and other important information.

A Symbol of Good Luck

In Japan, there are many superstitions surrounding childbirth, and keeping the umbilical cord is believed to bring good luck and fortune. It is often kept in a special container or pouch along with other lucky items such as rice or coins.

A Way to Honor Tradition

Keeping the umbilical cord is a traditional practice that has been passed down through generations in Japan. By continuing this practice, parents are honoring their cultural heritage and preserving an important aspect of their history.


The tradition of keeping the umbilical cord may seem unusual to outsiders, but it holds great significance in Japanese culture. It represents a deep respect for nature, family ties, and ancestral spirits. By preserving this physical connection between mother and child, it symbolizes their unbreakable bond and commitment to each other.

Why do Japanese people keep umbilical cords?

In Japan, there is a belief that the health of a newborn is linked to their umbilical cord. To maintain the cord’s significance, hospitals usually provide new mothers with a special container for storing the cord after it falls off.

Why do people keep baby umbilical cord?

Hematopoietic stem cells are present in cord blood and have the ability to transform into any type of blood cell. These cells can be utilized for transplants that treat various illnesses including blood disorders, immune deficiencies, metabolic diseases, and certain types of cancer. Continuous research is demonstrating additional ways in which cord blood can be utilized to save lives.

What are Japanese traditions for pregnancy?

Traditionally in Japan, it was expected that women who gave birth would stay indoors with their infants for the first 100 days after delivery, but nowadays most mothers only choose to do so for the first month.

What do Japanese do with the placenta?

The Mayan tradition involves burying the placenta under a designated tree as a way to honor the important connection between a mother and her child. This practice is believed to offer protective benefits for the child. Similarly, in Chinese and Japanese culture, burying the placenta is considered to bring blessings and safeguard the child’s future.

What do Muslims do with the umbilical cord?

Certain Islamic scholars advise that we should bury the placenta and umbilical cord of our newborn child after they are born.

Should I keep my kids umbilical cord?

It is not common for medical groups to advise parents to store cord blood as a standard practice. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend storing umbilical cord blood for future use unless there is a specific medical need for a sibling.

Preserving the Umbilical Cord

In Japan, there are different ways to preserve the umbilical cord. One common method is to dry it out and keep it in a small pouch or container. Some families even create unique crafts or decorations using the dried umbilical cord, such as framing it with calligraphy or incorporating it into a piece of artwork.

Modern Views on the Tradition

Although the tradition of keeping the umbilical cord has been around for centuries, some modern Japanese families have started to move away from this practice. With advances in medical technology and changing cultural values, some parents feel that preserving the umbilical cord is no longer necessary.

Similar Traditions in Other Cultures

While keeping the umbilical cord may seem like a uniquely Japanese tradition, there are similar practices in other cultures around the world. For example, some Native American tribes believe that burying the umbilical cord connects the child to their ancestral land and helps them grow strong roots.

Final Thoughts

The tradition of keeping the umbilical cord is just one example of the rich cultural heritage of Japan. While it may seem strange to some, it represents a deep respect for nature, family ties, and ancestral spirits. Whether or not modern Japanese families continue this practice, it remains an important part of their cultural history and identity.

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