Yakudoshi - The calamitous years for the Japanese

Yakudoshi [厄年] literally means critical years or calamitous. It is the custom of the Japanese to believe that a certain age is considered bad, full of bad luck and more susceptible to misfortune or illness.

In Buddhism, calamitous periods in life are compared to knots in a bamboo. That hard knot in the bamboo is necessary for its continuity and to maintain its resistance. Likewise, calamitous years are necessary to gain experiences.

These ages are idealized according to Chinese yin / yang and can also be considered an age of transformation and maturity.

List of calamitous years - bad ages

The years of bad luck can be seen in the table below, and may vary according to sex and region. The calamitous years are divided into maetaku, honyaku and atoyaku which refers to before, during and after critical age.

Honyaku literally means: Great Calamity. Many people also believe that the previous year maeyaku and the year after yakudoshi (atoyaku) they are also calamitous and take great care.

For men [男性] his calamitous years are:

Responsive Table: Roll the table sideways with your finger >>
Maeyaku [前厄]honyaku [本厄]Atoyaku [後厄]
24歳25歳26歳
41歳42歳43歳
60 歳61歳62歳

For women [女性] their calamitous years are:

Responsive Table: Roll the table sideways with your finger >>
Maeyaku [前厄]honyaku [本厄]Atoyaku [後厄]
18歳19歳20 歳
32歳33歳34歳
36歳37歳38歳

Why do the Japanese believe in yakudoshi?

Why do the Japanese believe that? Well, you know they’re full of superstitions. But his explanations for each age are as follows:

  • 42 四十二 can be pronounced “shi-ni” 四二, which has the same phoneme as the word “morte” 死に. 
  • 33 pronounced like “Sanzan” means ”terrível “, or “desastroso”;
  • Some proponents of this theory, explain that 25 is the end of puberty for men and 19 for women, and say that these years are suffered full of challenges.
  • Likewise 61 and 37 is the end of adult life for them. (strange because Japanese women with 37 have faces of 20);

Well, who are we to question Japanese beliefs? It is quite strange to believe in such superstitions. But to strengthen such beliefs, several Coincidences happen, in addition to the person's belief and psychological make him believe that he is having really bad days.

Yakudoshi - the calamitous years for the Japanese

How do the Japanese avoid these years?

Many Japanese people do many things to avoid being unlucky at this age. Things like:

  • Family and friends throw a party to celebrate the unlucky birthday boy, and he reciprocates the following year;
  • Some often visit shrines such as: Chiba Shrine, Nishiarai Daishi, Aoyagi Daishi, Myohoji and others;
  • Some often use amulets and objects to attract luck at this age;
  • Formerly people practiced a drinking rite sake under a plum tree in the temples in order to ward off calamities. Today, however, they ore with the sake contained within a gourd;
  • Those who went to the temples received an amulet called Ofuda to be placed in your home in order to protect it. When the year of Yakudoshi passed, they returned them, thanking that nothing bad had happened;

Yakudoshi was not considered just a superstition, but a belief that was part of the daily life of the Japanese. But as the situation goes, almost every year is dire.

Yakubarai - ceremony to ward off suffering

The Buddhist ceremony yakubarai it is performed to ward off suffering. The ceremony can be performed individually or in conjunction with other ceremonies such as Kannon Hõyo.

Yakubarai is held in the year of Maeyaku, preferably in the first months of the year, and later in the year of Atoyaku, as thanks for the end of the critical period. It is common to hold the ceremony with friends and family at a party.

According to this tradition, it is believed that it is a good omen that men in the honyaku visit the temples and perform ceremonies to ask for protection and celebrate the anniversary with a special party.

It is not clear how these superstitions arose. What do you think? If you liked the article, leave your comments and share with friends.

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