It’s been said many times that Japanese people are not religious. Instead, a lot of them or possibly all of them are superstitious. A good number of superstitions are based on culture and customs. Some are from foreign countries, like for example a black cat crossing your path will bring you bad luck.
I got a question from a reader about yakudoshi (厄年、the unlucky years).
Men and women of certain ages also go to a shrine or temple to make sure they don’t suffer the worst of “yakudoshi”. The term refers to the ages 25 and 42 for men, 19 and 33 for women. The word “yaku” means calamity and it’s thought that failure to ward off the bad luck can lead to disaster. Wearing red is also thought to help. Red is also worn at an event to celebrate a man’s 60th year. Called “kanreki”, it marks the fifth completion of the traditional 12-year cycle and is referred to as a kind of return to childhod or second infancy. (From: Japan Zone)
I’ve heard that bad luck is attracted not only the yakudoshi year, but also on the year before it and the year after it. There are omamori (お守り、lucky charms) that one can buy at shrines and temples that can help ward off the bad luck.
Since I’ve been in Japan, I haven’t been worried about the number 13, my fear has transferred to the number 4. But then since I am not Japanese, I’d like to think I’m a bit exempt from the bad luck of things I know so little of.