2

In the hospital where Sakakibara was having his checkups and where Sanae worked, the elevator had no 4th floor.

Now, I know in Japanese culture the numbers 4 (四 shi) and 7 (七 shichi) have "shi" in them which is "death" (死 shi) and the Japanese are very superstitious, so they have alternate names for 4 and 7 (yon and nana).

So I'm wondering, is it just in Another, where the theme is death, that the 4th floor (and possibly the 7th floor, never really noticed) is missing, or is it a cultural thing in Japan to label the 4th floor as the 5th floor?

5

This is true for many East Asian cultures, because, as you pointed out, 4 sounds like "Death". You can read about it here. It's the same as the idea that many western hotels skip the 13th floor and instead label it the 14th floor because 13 is a superstitious number.

Japanese hotels sometimes also skip the 13th floor.

4

@kuwaly's answer is essentially correct.

I'd just like to add that I've never heard of the 7th floor being excluded from a building. The major numerical superstitions in Japanese (and probably Chinese, etc.) surround the numbers 4 (四 yon or shi) and 9 (九 ku or kyuu), since they sound like "death" (死, shi) and "suffering" (苦 ku). To the best of my knowledge, there are no similar superstitions surrounding the number 7 (despite the fact that, as you correctly point out, 7 can be read shichi).

Also, just to make this clear - the presence of "alternate" readings like yon and nana (for 4 and 7 respectively) isn't purely because of superstition. Rather, it's because there are two parallel schemes for counting in Japanese, one of which uses native Japanese words (hito, futa, mi, yo, itsu, ...), and one of which uses Chinese imports (itsu / ichi, ni / ji, san, shi, go, ...). This is vaguely similar to how English has native words (one, two, three, four, five...) and Greek/Latin imports (mono / uni, di / bi, tri, tetra / quad, pent / quint, ...). If you're interested in learning more, consider asking a question on Japanese.SE

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