Now that's a pooperstition too far

11th January 2008 at 00:00
Forget trolls, teddy bears and four-leafed clovers. A craze has developed among Japanese pupils for a new good luck charm to place on their desks during exams: trinkets made from elephant dung.

Enterprising individuals have been collecting droppings from a 36-year-old Asian elephant at Utsunomiya Zoo, in northern Japan. They then sterilise the pachyderm poo and process it into paper and other gifts, embossed with the word "pass" in red characters.

The reason such unpromising raw material is seen as good luck is because the words for "luck" and "shit" sound similar in Japanese.

This has given rise to a multiplicity of turd-shaped charms for examinees, including the ever-popular pencil-top mascot "Unchi-kun" (poo boy) and stool-based pendants for mobile phones.

In China, there could also be a run on mascots.

As it is the Year of the Rat, pupils can hope to benefit from the rodent's cunning to pass their formidable exams.

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