Yakudoshi

Reverend Koho Takata

 

Since coming to Hawaii, I often received questions about Yakudoshi which means an unlucky age. In Hawaii, the Yakudoshi party is a very famous custom. Yakudoshi, as one of the most popular Japanese customs is known to all Japanese-Americans. However, do you know the meaning of Yakudoshi?

In Japan, Yakudoshi is considered to be observed in his forty-second calendar year and in her thirty-third. It is commonly said that it is brought the unhappy things at these ages. This is why they have a party, a memorial service, and so forth to remove the unhappy things.

There are various ways of removing the unhappy things in Japan. For example, a person who is observing Yakudoshi scatters the foods in his house at the Yakudoshi party. Then, guests pick up all the foods and eat them. Also, it is said that red is happy colour. So, they make a string of one thousand folded red paper cranes (Senbazuru), red rice cake (mochi), and they prepare the red fish (tai), and so forth. Also, they put the decorations of pine trees at the entrance of the home. Like this, there are many styles to remove the unhappy things in Japan. However, as you know, we, Jodo Shin Buddhists, do not believe in such superstitions. We do not celebrate the unhappy age or remove oneís unhappy things.

    "The Buddhas of the zenith, countless as the sands of the Ganzes,

    Extend their tongues for the sake of such people as those of this Saha world

    Who, committing the ten transgressions and five grave offences, greatly doubt and slander the teaching,

    Entrust themselves to wrong views, serve spirits, offer foods to gods and maras,

    Think delusional thoughts, seeking blessings, and wish for benefits,

    And who, on the contrary, suffer calamities and disasters one after another, with increasing frequency,

    Lie in bed with sickness in successive years, and

    Grow deaf and bind, with broken legs and palsied hands ------

    Serving gods and receiving such recompense.

    Why do they not abandon such practices and think on Amida?

    (- - - - - )The first is to take refuge in the Buddha. (- - -) The second is to take refuge in the Buddha. (- - -) The third is to take refuge in the Sangha. (- - -) One never again takes refuge in nonbuddhist paths."

(The Collected Works of Shinran, P 286)

Even though we believe in such superstitions like Yakudoshi, unhappy things cannot be removed by mere rituals. In reality, everything does not go as we wish.

The other day, I saw the Internet about Yakudoshi. I could study about the significance of having the Yakudoshi party in Hawaii. According to the home page, the significance of having the Yakudoshi party in Hawaii is not to remove oneís unhappiness in religious senses. The reason why they have the Yakudoshi party is to have a fellowship with friends, family members, relatives, and so forth. They gather to share their thoughts about Japan without having the different feelings of each personís religion. At the same time, each person recognizes that their ancestors are all Japanese. Moreover, it mentioned that they simply like a party. Yakudoshi is one of the reasons to have a party. When I finished studying about Yakudoshi in Hawaii, I agreed the Hawaiian style Yakudoshi. Please enjoy the party in the Light of Wisdom and Compassion of Amida Buddha.

Namo-Amidabutsu