It’s That Time Again: Yakudoshi!

Dear Readers, Happy 2017!  明けましておめでとうございます。

This New Year came and went so fast, didn’t it?  It was a busy week here at our home.  My daughter celebrated her 10th birthday just before New Year’s eve!  “Baby” is definitely not a baby anymore.  This is one of my first posts about Baby in the blog, by the way. 

New Year’s itself was great.  Lots of food and friends, but nothing terribly different from past years.

One thing that was notable this year is that it turns out I am starting Yakudoshi, my inauspicious year.  I posted about yakudoshi a long time ago, and I haven’t really thought about it much lately since it only impacts a person a few times in their life, if ever.  My wife went through it a few years ago but is over it now. 

Technically, yakudoshi is not one, but three years:

  • Maeyaku (前厄) – the year before
  • Yakudoshi (厄年) – the year of calamity
  • Atoyaku (後厄)  – the year after

It’s based on the year you were born, particularly the Japanese calendar (not the Gregorian calendar).  As I was born in the 52nd year¹ of the reign of the Showa Emperor,² this year is maeyaku for me.

So, for Hatsumode, the first temple visit of the year, we went to the usual Shingon Buddhist temple and in addition to the usual blessings we also signed up for a special purification or yakubarai (厄払い). Then we got our yearly ofuda tablet (we brought back last year’s of course) and I got a special omamori charm to carry in my wallet. 

One might find all this a bit superstitious and people wouldn’t disagree with you. On the other hand, as the sole bread-winner of the family it’s a good idea to not take a chance either. 🙂

Besides, the experience was pretty fun in a way, although Little Guy was really bored with the ceremony. He flopped all over the ground and talked about Pokemon too loud. Life with a three-year old. ;-p

Anyhow hope you all have a great year!

¹ With Japanese imperial years, the first year (元年, gannen) is considered year 1, not year 0.

² Unlike in English, the Emperors are never referred to by their regular names.  Instead, past emperors are called their reign name: Meiji Emperor, Showa Emperor, etc.  The reigning emperor is simply called either heika (陛下, “his majesty”) tennō-heika (天皇陛下, “his majesty, the Emperor”), etc.


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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