Yakudoshi - the calamity year

Yakudoshi 厄年(やくどし)is what is known as the calamity year in Japanese culture. During one`s life, there are certain years which are troublesome or full of bad luck.

For women, those ages are 19, 33 and 37; for men, 25, 42 and 61. The worst of these (taiyaku 本厄) is 33 for women and 42 for men.

The year before a major yakudoshi is called `maeyaku 前厄` and the year after is `atoyaku 後厄` .

This year`s unlucky ages...
前厄32歳 昭和56年生まれ  Age 32 / Born in 56 = 1981
本厄33歳 昭和55年生まれ    Age 33 / Born in 55 = 1980
後厄34歳 昭和54年生まれ    Age 34 / Born in 54 = 1979

The worst years for women (33) and men (42) are also phonetically unlucky. The number 33 when pronounced `sanzan` means disastrous, terrible or hard. The number 42,  when pronounced `shi-ni` means `to death`.

This year is my maeyaku, so I had to go to a Shinto shrine last week to receive divine protection. At the shrine you write down all your information (name, age, etc) and pay for the priest to include your details in the prayers they do each day, and then pay a little more to receive a lucky charm.

I went to Kiyoshikōjin Seichō-ji in Takarazuka (a shrine established in 896 by the monk Seikan) where I received a kind of amulet that looks like a pair of golden chopsticks 厄除開運火箸(やくよけかいうんひばし).

These `hibachi 火箸` (lit. fire chopsticks) are usually used during japanese tea ceremony to handle charcoal. From what I understand, if they are placed in the room during the yakudoshi years, the bad luck will be picked up and removed.

So I am safe and protected until next year when I must return to the shrine to get extra protection during the taiyaku.


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