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What’s in a Number?

April 10th 2012

The idea that certain numbers might be luckier than others is common to practically every culture.

In Chinese culture, certain numbers are considered “lucky” because their pronunciations sound similar to words that have “lucky” meanings. The importance of lucky numbers in China has been illustrated by their people selecting such numbers when choosing residences, telephone numbers, wedding dates and other celebratory events.

Even numbers are preferred over odd numbers. The number 8 is particularly lucky, indicating prosperity, wealth, success or social status. Conversely, the number 4 is considered an unlucky number in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese cultures because it is nearly homophonous to the word “death”.

Understandably, the negative connotation with the number 4 does cause some concern for owners selling to Chinese or Asian buyers. However, Senior Associate Jason Salan notes that it appears that less importance is being placed on numerology by buyers from Asia, as in a lot of ways they are becoming more westernised in their beliefs.

For example, an Asian couple purchased the house at 4 Access Road, Mont Albert North last month, supporting this observation that a lot of young, first and second generation Asian buyers pay none or little regard to the superstition associated with the number 4. 

Lucky 8 Car

 It certainly is a thought provoking topic…here are some interesting facts about numbers in Asian culture!

– Due to the connotation that the number 4 has with death, many numbered product lines skip the 4, e.g. Nokia mobile phones (there is no series beginning with a 4).

– In East Asia, some buildings do not have a 4th floor.

– In Hong Kong, some high rise residential buildings miss all floor numbers with 4 (e.g. 4, 14, 24, 34 and 40-49 floors) – as a result, a building whose highest floor is number 50 may actually only have 36 physical floors.

– A telephone number with all digits being 8’s was sold for USD$270,723.00 in Chengdu, China.

– The opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Beijing began on 8/8/08 at 8 seconds and 8 minutes past 8pm (local time)!

– A man in Hangzhou offered to sell his license plate reading A88888 for RMB1.12 million (roughly USD$164,000).

– The number 9, being the greatest of single-digit numbers, was historically associated with the Emperor of China; the Emperor’s robes often had nine dragons, and Chinese mythology held that the dragon has nine children.

References: and