Significance of 戸 place names in northern Honshū


Senior Member
Hello everyone,

I've spotted an interesting feature whilst exploring Google Maps, namely the existence of the following places in Iwate and Aomori Prefectures:


二戸郡 and 二戸市

三戸郡 and 三戸町





九戸郡 and 九戸村

As far as I understand, these mean "First Door", "Second Door", "Third Door" etc. Is that right?

Is there any reason for this series of names, and most importantly, why is there no 四戸? :)

Thanks for any insights
  • kanadaaa

    Senior Member
    Japanese (Tokai)
    It seems that one district was divided into 9 in the past with each given a name as such but the families of the landowner of 四戸 died out in a fight.
    Perhaps this is why.


    Senior Member
    why is there no 四戸? :)

    Maybe it's because old Japanese people didn't like the number 4, just like Western people didn't like 13 and 666.

    四 (shi) has the same pronunciation as 死 (shi: the death), and this is why the number 4 was regarded as a dreadful number in Japan.

    For example, old hospitals didn't have the patients rooms that included the number 4:
    The room 101, 102, 103, 105, 106, 107...
    They skipped 104.

    Perhaps this is why. :)
    Last edited:


    There used to be 四戸 (shi no he) and it was believed to have existed around Kushihiki of 八戸市. Existence of 四戸 is a proven fact that 櫛引八幡宮 in that area used to be called 四戸八幡宮 and that name existed at least up to 1366. However, the true reason that name disappeared is unknown.
    As to number 四 (shi) that it was not thought to be favorable by people may not be true. This is my opinion, though. Japanese language in relation to Buddhism has words that contain 四: 四海、四天王、etc. and there have good meaning. Also, there's 四條畷市 in Osaka, and there's 四万十 in Kochi prefecture.

    「戸」is also thought to mean pasture. The region where「戸」was introduced was famous for producing high quality horses and they were treasured so much like we do with wines and such. Thus ,horses were identified by which 「戸」 they came from.

    This is a chopped-up version of a long history and culture, but I hope it helps.


    Senior Member
    どうもありがとうございます。 Thanks for your detailed reply, much appreciated :)