Red string of fate

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Red string of fate
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 紅線
Simplified Chinese 红线
Japanese name
Kanji 赤い糸

The Red String of Fate (simplified Chinese: 姻缘红线; traditional Chinese: 姻緣紅線; pinyin: Yīnyuán hóngxiàn), also referred to as the Red String of Marriage, and other variants, is an East Asian belief originating from Chinese legend. According to this myth, the gods tie an invisible red cord around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. Often, in Japanese culture, it is thought to be tied around the little finger. According to Chinese legend, the deity in charge of "the red thread" is believed to be Yuè Xià Lǎorén (月下老人), often abbreviated to Yuè Lǎo (月老), the old lunar matchmaker god, who is in charge of marriages.

The two people connected by the red thread are destined lovers, regardless of place, time, or circumstances. This magical cord may stretch or tangle, but never break. This myth is similar to the Western concept of soulmate or a destined flame.


One story featuring the red string of fate involves a young boy. Walking home one night, a young boy sees an old man (Yue Xia Lao) standing beneath the moonlight. The man explains to the boy that he is attached to his destined wife by a red thread. Yue Xia Lao shows the boy the young girl who is destined to be his wife. Being young and having no interest in having a wife, the young boy picks up a rock and throws it at the girl, running away. Many years later, when the boy has grown into a young man, his parents arrange a wedding for him. On the night of his wedding, his wife waits for him in their bedroom, with the traditional veil covering her face. Raising it, the man is delighted to find that his wife is one of the great beauties of his village. However, she wears an adornment on her eyebrow. He asks her why she wears it and she responds that when she was a young girl, a boy threw a rock at her that struck her, leaving a scar on her eyebrow. She self-consciously wears the adornment to cover it up. The woman is, in fact, the same young girl connected to the man by the red thread shown to him by Yue Xia Lao back in his childhood, showing that they were connected by the red string of fate.

In East Asian popular culture[edit]

In Japanese manga[edit]

Heavy references or inferences to the "red string" throughout several other Japanese manga series, including Kekkaishi, Loveless, Nana, Kuroshitsuji, The Vision of Escaflowne, Detective Conan, InuYasha, Bleach, Tenchi Muyo, Toradora, Hell Girl, Fruits Basket, xxxHolic, Yu Yu Hakusho, Otomen, Aki Sora, Ranma 1/2, Cross Game, Naruto, and Sailor Moon.

In Japanese anime[edit]

  • In the anime Urusei Yatsura, toward the end of the movie "Remember My Love", notorious lech Ataru is shown to have multiple red strings attached to every one of his fingers. It's implied that he might like to be faithful to Lum, but... [1]
  • In the anime Yu Yu Hakusho, when Yusuke, Kuwabara and Botan go to rescue Yukina, Kuwabara points the way, claiming that his fate and Yukina's are interwined by a red string.
  • In the anime "Akagame no shirayuki hime" Shirayuki is told her red hair is "the color of fate."
  • In the anime World Fool News, Usui runs into a former girlfriend and Luna Park, and Shimohira tells him that they are connected by a red string (which she calls a cord, because it is "harder to cut").
  • In the anime Oreimo, the opening song shows Kyousuke Kousaka with a red string around his little finger, but does not show who is on the other end. Although, implies to be Kirino Kousaka as the screen transitions to her when following the string.
  • In InuYasha: The Final Act, during the first ending, "With You" by AAA the characters Inuyasha and Kagome are shown with a red string attached to their pinky since they are destined to meet.
  • In Pretty Rhythm: Rainbow Live, in "BT 37.5" by Ito Suzuno, she performed "The red thread... Summertime love!", referring the red string of fate.
  • In the Naruto series, Kushina Uzumaki claims her red hair became her own red thread of life that eventually linked her to Minato Namikaze.
  • In the anime Tenchi in Tokyo, the goddess whisks Sakuya and Tenchi away to a café for a romantic moment together. Spotting her opportunity, the love goddess tries to tie Tenchi and Sakuya's fingers together with the red string of fate. Interestingly enough a red string of fate is also attached to all the female protagonists, his grandfather, and father indicating that Tenshi had a destined connection to each of his companions.
  • In the movie Case Closed: The Time Bombed Skyscraper, Ran Mouri answers why she did not cut the red wire to disable the time bomb because she and Shinichi Kudo are connected by it, referring the red string of fate.
  • In the anime xxxHolic, episode 9 refers Yuko's customer, who purposely dates different boys claiming the same promise that they were connected by the red string.
  • In the anime Ai Yori Aoshi the opening in right in the middle the red string shows that Aoi and Kaoru are in love.
  • In the anime Kekkaishi the ending "Akai Ito" literally translating to "Red String".
  • In the anime Ranma 1/2, there is an episode where the character Shampoo gets a magical red string which causes her love interest, the series main protagonist, Ranma Saotome, to fall head over heels for her.
  • In the anime Is the Order a Rabbit? Cocoa and Chino are connected by a red string in an endcard.
  • In the anime Mawaru Penguindrum the red string of fate is a major motif that is seen throughout the show.
  • In the anime Guilty Crown, episode 22 Inori tells Shu to take the 'Guilty Crown' (a red string form of Cat's Cradle). Shu absorbs her blindness and Inori sacrifices herself to save Shu's life in crystallization.
  • In the anime Locodol Nanako and Yukari are tied by a red string in the eyecatch of an episode about them.
  • In the anime Hibike! Euphonium, the ending song "Tutti" shows Oumae Kumiko and Kousaka Reina linked by a red string around each of their little fingers.
  • In the anime, Junjou Romantica 3, Misaki and Usagi-san are shown to be connected by the red string of fate that is placed around their little fingers in the ending theme song.
  • In the anime, Attack on Titan, Mikasa's red scarf that Eren gave her is a reference to the red string of fate.
  • In the anime, Akame Ga Kill the leader of the path of piece comes across Tatsumi and Mine arguing. He then says the two are connected by the red string of fate. They then continue to argue about never wanting to be with each other.
  • In the ending credits in the 3rd season of, [Junjou Romantic] Takahashi Misaki and Usami Akihiko are asleep on the floor with a red string connecting the two. Eventually the string manipulates itself to form a heart.
  • In the manga Absolute Boyfriend, Riiko Izawa and Night Tenjo are linked by a red string during their stay at a spa's grand opening. They're told if the string breaks, then they're not meant to last as a couple.
  • The anime Kill la Kill has numerous references to the red string of fate. The first opening even has numerous of the main and supporting characters wrapped in what seems to be a continuous red string, signifying their connection to each other in one way or another. Secondly, the "Life Fibers" in the anime, which are literal red-colored threads, are a symbol of the red-string of fate.

In film[edit]

  • In the 1957 film Sayonara, Miiko Taka's character Hana-ogi points out to Marlon Brando's character, Lloyd Gruver, her lover, two rocks in the sea close to shore, which are said to be "married", as shown by the red rope connecting them across the waves.
  • In the feature film Dolls, two of the main characters go through the story attached with a red piece of rope.
  • In the 2005 film Ashurajou no Hitomi, there is a red string of fate binding the main character Izumo, to his love-interest the mysterious Tsubaki.
  • In the 2006 Japanese film Wool 100%, red yarn is shown throughout as linking the characters.
  • In the television series Touch, the plot is based mainly on a thread that connects everyone in your life.
  • In the 2008 television series Akai Ito, junior high school students Mei and Atsushi - who must overcome drugs, rape and attempted suicide in order to be together.
  • In the 2009 Japanese film Hanamuko wa 18 sai, an 18-year-old high school student, Masaya got married with a 38-year-old lady, who is Masaya's school principal, Aiko due to a red string of fate of destiny that was told by an old man at the river where they met together for the first time. The old man is possibly could be Yue Lao, the god of marriage as he was later shown in the end where two teachers and two students are being together, showing the red string again on their little fingers.
  • In the 2010 Taiwan television series "愛無限" (Endless Love).
  • In the 2012 South Korean television series "신사의 품격" (A Gentleman's Dignity), the main characters of Kim Do Jin and Seo Yi Soo meet when the red string from Yi Soo's sweater gets attached to Do Jin's bag, symbolizing their fate binding them together.
  • In the 2012 Canadian TV series Touch "There's an ancient Chinese myth about the red thread of fate, it says that the gods have a red thread around everyone of our ankles and attached to all the people whose lives are destined to touch. This thread may stretch or tangle, but it'll never break."
  • In 2016, Philippine musical drama TV series Born for You also features the red string of fate. It is an ancient Japanese belief that for each destined couple, there's an invisible red string that is tied on their pinky finger from the time that they were brought to life from birth. That no matter how far they are from each other, it will bind them to meet against all circumstances. It can be bent, but it can never be broken". "That red string belief...", "That red string connection...", & "That red string feeling..."
  • In the 2016 Japanese animated movie Your Name, Mitsuha wears a red braided cord that is shown in the opening to wind around both her and Taki, symbolizing the red string of fate. Braided cords are also stated within the movie to "twist, tangle, sometimes unravel, then connect again", much like the red string of fate.

In music[edit]

In the song "Makka Na Ito" by the Japanese band Plastic Tree there are references to the red string of fate in the chorus. The title translates to "crimson thread".

Also quoting the "Vocaloid2" song "Just be friends" aka "JBF" by Luka Megurine. In the PV, Luka and Boy ("Masuta/Master" perhaps) are connected by the red string of fate, resembling their soul-ship, even though they broke up.

The song "Nankai Renai", translated as "Difficult Love" sung by Gumi mentions a "One-way red thread of fate", fitting as the song speaks about her bearing a platonic attraction.

"One Red Thread" by American band Blind Pilot refers to the "red thread" and includes lines such as "from the minute that the line got drawn," and "my only one, my only one," signifying the destiny of two people's connection.

In a PV for the song "Choose Me" by Hyadain, the story depicts a love triangle; both girls involved wear the red string of fate. The string of the girls is shown to be wrapped around the male counterparts' neck, a metaphor for his struggle to pick only one of the two.

"Akai Ito" by Koshi Inaba literally translating to "Red string"

In the song "Dive Bar" by American band The Tower and The Fool, "And I told about time where I tried to tie a red thread around her ankles in your bed at night," talking about a girl that is not destined for him, even if he tries to force it.

In the song "Tip of my Tongue" by the Civil Wars, "You're a red string tied to my finger. A little love letter I carry with me."

In the MV for the song "Depend on Me" by Korean boy band VIXX, the red string appears throughout the video.

In the song "Leave" sung by Gumi "We're destined never to meet again, the two of us, by a red string" and the during the chorus, in the PV Gumi is shown with a red string tied around her little finger which she holds over her mouth.

In the song "RED" by the Japanese visual kei band the GazettE mentioned about the red string of fate. the story behind can be imagined through the lyrics of the song.

The song, "ambiguous" by Japanese music duo GARNiDELiA, includes the lyrics "unmei no ito" which literally translates to "thread of fate".

In Japanese video games[edit]

In the 2004 game Shadow Hearts: Covenant, one of the weapons obtained by the character Gepetto is called "Crimson Thread". It is described as "A thread that connects the fates of two people" and "Legend says this thread links the fate of a star-crossed couple. Said to make the owner's deepest wish a reality".

In the Pokémon series, since Diamond and Pearl, the item Destiny Knot, a red ball of string, may be held by a Pokémon. If that Pokémon is inflicted with the Attract condition, its opponent also becomes attracted.

In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the main antagonist, Demon Lord Ghirahim, claims that he and the protagonist, Link, are connected by a thread of fate that will soon be soaked crimson with the latter's blood.

See also[edit]