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No building 13! Because it’s a sinister number? [Aogaku Time Traveler]

By Blue

First mission for Aogaku Time Traveler

One day when remote working in the afternoon—

I found something interesting when I was looking at “the campus map (Japanese)” on the Aoyama Gakuin website.
I saw that the university buildings were indeed named in the order in which they were constructed, but, I wondered, why were #12 and #13 missing!?

It might be a great discovery!


Somehow, I remembered that there was a University Building 12.

Probably it was a classroom building that existed before University Building 17 was constructed. I remember taking a class there when I was a student. University Building 12 had a co-op store on the first floor, and also a cafeteria in the basement.

However, I have never heard of a University Building 13.

Maybe it’s because Iʼm too young to know that a University Building 13 had existed?
Or possibly the reason is because “13” is an unlucky number for Christians, and that’s why “13” was missing?!

While wondering about all this, I realized that, finally, here is the first mission for Aogaku Time Traveler.

By the way, “Aogaku Time Traveler” is the name of a unique investigative organization, formed to research any questions about the campuses and buildings and so forth in Aoyama Gakuin. Team members carry out irregular investigations, and all team members have code names named after colors.


Stories of the number “13”

First, I researched why the number “13” is considered to be an unlucky number in many parts of the world.

[Norse mythology]
Once, when twelve gods were holding a celebration banquet, the trickster –god Loki burst into the festivities as the thirteenth uninvited guest. Loki is very cunning, and has a considerable influence on Ragnarok, the foretold time of great destruction, which is also called the Day of the End and the Twilight of the Gods. This is one idea about why Lokiʼs number “13” became an unlucky number.

The thirteenth guest at the Last Supper was Judas of Iscariot, who, according to the New Testament, betrayed Jesus for money.
Although some theories say Judas is the thirteenth apostle, it actually seems as though he was the twelfth.
Did some people want to make number “13” an unlucky number for some reason? Here are some quotes from the Bible:

    John 6:70
    Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.”
    Matthew 26:14-16
    Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, and said, “What are you willing to give me, that I should deliver Him to you?” They weighed out for Him thirty pieces of silver. From that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.

In a similar fashion, the idea that the day of Jesus’ crucifixion was “Friday the 13th” also seems to have spread around the world in modern times.
However, Friday the 13th is also known for being the title of a famous horror movie, and there are no details of the date of Jesusʼ Crucifixion in the Bible.


  • A flight of 13 steps
  • The phrase “a flight of 13 steps” has the meaning of “an execution” in Japanese.
    It comes from the situation where class-A war criminals of the Pacific War went to the gallows by climbing 13 steps.

  • 13th floor of a building
  • Many tall buildings have no (named) thirteenth floor in Western countries because the
    number “13” is avoided due to superstition. The 13th floor is avoided by calling it 12A or 12B or 12 1/2 instead. Some buildings are built with floor 12 followed by floor 14.

  • Airport Gates and airplane seats.
  • The number 13 is often avoided for a gate in an airport and a seat for an airplane.


    [Results of an Independent Survey]

  • seat for airplane
       ・AirbusA350-1000(351) X35
          … found (numerical order)
             Go to JAL website(AirbusA350-1000)
       ・Boeing787-9(789) E92
          … not found: 8-16 (I canʼt find these numbers on other Boeing planes either.)
             Go to JAL website(Boeing787-9)

       ・Airbus A380-800 (388)
            Go to ANA website(Boeing 787-10)
          … found (numerical order)
       ・Boeing 787-10 (781)
          … not found 11-14 (Other planes may or may not found numbers.)
            Go to ANA website(Boeing 787-10)

      American Airlines
       ・Boeing 777-200 77D
          … found
            Go to SEAT LINK.COM website(Boeing 777-200 77D)

       ・Airbus A220-300
          … not found (I can’t find numbers on other Airbus planes either.)
            Go to AIRFRANCE website(Airbus A220-300)

       ・Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners
          … not found 13-14
            Go to AIRFRANCE website(Airbus 320)

       ・Airbus A320
          … not found 13-19
            Go to UNITED AIRLINES website(Airbus 320)
       ・Boeing 737-800
          … not found
            Go to UNITED AIRLINES website(Boeing 737-800)


  • Airport gate(Number 13)
  •   HANEDA AIRPORT … found! (2F Departure Lobby)
        Go to HANEDA AIRPORT website(Near the center)
      Narita Airport … not found! (3F Terminal 1)
        Go to Narita Airport website(right end)
      Heathrow Airport  … found(terminal 3 & 5, not found(terminal 4)
        Go to Heathrow Airport website(right end)
      John F. Kennedy International Airport(JFK)  … not found
        Go to JFK Airport website(right end)
      Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport(All terminals A~E) … not found
        Go to Dallas Airport website(right end)
      Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta international airport … found
        Go to Atlanta Airport website(right end)


    This is the map of John F. Kennedy International Airport.
    “13” is obeously skipped.


  • In Japan, it seems that people habitually make a straw doll or similar as a fourteenth guest when thirteen guests are in a ship or a mountain hut.
  • In Formula 1 it seems that, formerly, drivers customarily avoided choosing the number 13 for their car number.

    Although the information above is based on Wikipedia, sources and data were researched and checked to support these results.

    Information which uses “seems” in the sentence has no documents to support it, but this information is considered to be of interest as well. That’s why items of interest are reported here even if there is no evidence for them.

    The trope that the number 13 is an unlucky number features often in the famous mystery novels of author Agatha Christie.
    We guess that this trope probably features in other English and American literary works too.
    Of course, this also appears in Japanese works.
    I like PARADOX13 written by Keigo Higashino.

    There were many and various stories other than those above, and unfortunately thereʼs not enough space to report all of them.

    With all this accumulated information on the supposed unlucky nature of the number 13 I think that’s probably why Aoyama Gakuin also skipped (didn’t build) University Building 13.

    Yes, Iʼm pretty sure it must be that!

    Although Iʼm excited, I decided to ask about the truth to Mr. Shigeru Yoshida, who has been taking part in the construction of many buildings in Aoyama Gakuin for many a year.


    Mr. Yoshida, who is a walking encyclopedia of Aoyama Gakuin

    We can see Mr. Yoshida whenever we’re covering events related to the buildings like cornerstone-laying ceremonies, dedication ceremonies and so forth.

    I was always thinking that his name is exactly the same as an ex-premierʼs. Anyway,
    heʼs so nice and friendly.

    Heʼs been in charge of managing facilities and buildings in Aoyama Gakuin for a long time and is very knowledgeable.
    He has worked on the relocation of Sagamihara Campus, and on the reconstruction of school buildings of the elementary, secondary and high schools as well.
    I suspect he knows that there was no University Building 13 and the reason why.
    Thankfully, he willingly cooperated and accepted our request for an interview.

    Mr. Yoshida is on the left


    Touching the core of the main subject: Did there used to be University Building 13?

    Mr. Yoshida answered below:

      Before University Building 15 was built, there was a college chapel with “a pointed hat” and a two-story building behind it.
      We had been renting a two-story building as an office out to the Avaco company.
      After Avaco handed this building over to Aoyama Gakuin and moved out, we named it University Building 13 and took over managing it.
      We assigned some empty rooms as a warehouse, a control room, and also club rooms for a photography club and a brass band club.
      That building was commonly called “Avaco” even after the company moved out.
      Sadly, it was levelled when University Building 15 was constructed.

    He explained for us where these buildings had been using a current map of the campus.


    University Building 13 used to exist.
    How disappointing!
    I flattered myself it was a really good guess, but it wasn’t.

    Thank you for your corporation, Mr. Yoshida.
    (He’s going to show up again in the next article.)


    The mystery of the number 13 is still remaining.

    Here is another question coming to mind.
    Is the 13th building not the 13th built?

    ・1955: The AVACO building was completed.
    ・April 1975: University Building 10 and 11 were completed.
    ・Around 1976: The Avaco company moved out and the Avaco building was renamed University Building 13.
    ・January 1979: University Building 12 was completed.
    ・February 1988: University Building 14 which is also known as the “Soken Building” was completed.

    As shown above, only University Building 13 seems it was not numbered by following the order in which it had been completed.

    I asked Mr. Yoshida about this point.

    He said there is no doubt that university buildings are currently numbered by following the order in which they are completed, however, heʼs not sure about the situation of more than 40 years ago.

    The mystery of the number 13 still remains… though unfortunately timeʼs up for today!

    Thanks to all this research, I do feel like the number 13 has some mysterious power!


    (Translated by 湘 and International Affairs Department)