Both China and Japan have strong feelings about the number nine. Those feelings just happen to be on opposite ends of the spectrum.
The Chinese pulled out all the stops to celebrate their lucky number eight during last year’s Summer Olympics, ringing the games in at 8 p.m. on 08/08/08. What many might not realize is that nine comes in second on their list of auspicious digits and is associated with long life, due to how similar its pronunciation is to the local word for long-lasting (eight sounds like wealth).
Historically, ancient Chinese emperors associated themselves closely with the number nine, which appeared prominently in architecture and royal dress, often in the form of nine fearsome dragons. The imperial dynasties were so convinced of the power of the number nine that the palace complex at Beijing’s Forbidden City is rumored to have been built with 9,999 rooms.
Japanese emperors would have never worn a robe with nine dragons, however.
In Japanese, the word for nine is a homophone for the word for suffering, so the number is considered highly unlucky – second only to four, which sounds like death.
Many Japanese will go so far as to avoid room numbers including nine at hotels or hospitals, if the building planners haven’t already eliminated them altogether.
Not only does the date look good in marketing promotions, but it also represents the last set of repeating, single-digit dates that we’ll see for almost a century (until January 1, 2101), or a millennium (mark your calendars for January 1, 3001), depending on how you want to count it.
The rarity of this Sept. 9 hasn’t been lost on the creators of the iPod, who have moved their traditional Tuesday release day to Wednesday to take advantage of the special date. Focus Features is releasing their new film "9," an animated tale about the apocalypse, on the 9th.
Any grade-schooler could tell you, for example, that the sum of the two-digits resulting from nine multiplied by any other single-digit number will equal nine. So 9×3=27, and 2+7=9.
Multiply nine by any two, three or four-digit number and the sums of those will also break down to nine. For example: 9×62 = 558; 5+5+8=18; 1+8=9.
Sept. 9 also happens to be the 252nd day of the year (2 + 5 +2)…