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Yakudoshi are the years of calamity. This is a Japanese belief that people at the ages of yakudoshi are likely to experience misfortunes or illness. It is generally believed that men's yakudoshi are the ages 25, 42 and 61, and for women 19, 33 and 37, though there are local and historical variations. One's yakudoshi is measured by adding one to the actual age.
The ages of 42 for men and 33 for women are considered to be particularly bad years, honyaku (great calamity). This is probably because the numbers 42 and 33 are phonetically unlucky numbers. 42 can be pronounced "shi-ni" which is homophonous with the word " to death," and and 33, when pronounced as "sanzan" means "hard," "terrible," or "disastrous". When reaching yakudoshi, many people go to Shinto shrines for exorcism (yakubarai). Although this is just a superstition, it may not be improbable because people seem to go through hard times with their health or jobs around these ages.
Many people are also aware that the years preceding and following a major yakudoshi are yakudoshi year too. The year before yakudoshi is called "maeyaku," while the year after is called "atoyaku."
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