Japanese beliefs in superstitions
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Sharon Moshavi was recently in a quandary. But she didn't turn to her family for
advice. Moshavi lives in
Japanese friend Junko and I like to call 1) _________ other up and complain, and
lately we've had plenty 2) _________ complain about: work problems, men problems,
medical issues, as 3) _________ as run-of-the-mill existential
crises. One day,
Junko decided our 4) _________ of bad luck was more than just coincidence. `We're
5) _________ a yakudoshi,' she said. `A what?' I asked. `A 6) _________,' she
said, `an inauspicious year. It can affect women
7) _________ their 30s,' she
explained, and she knew exactly what 8) _________ had to do about it. We had to be
9) _________. This is
ready to throw logic to the wind and
14) _________ myself
purified when another
friend, Yuko, stepped in. `Forget 15)_________ the purification,' she said. `What
you need is a 16) _________ fortune telling,' the Japanese version of going to a
17) _________. In
realize that in my heart of hearts I
taking it seriously, too. I was
actually scared. Of 21) _________ it's absurd, of course it's
sheer chicanery. If I
22) _________ a good fortune--you know, I live to be 23) _________ hundred and win the
lottery--I'd laugh it off. 24) _________ what if my fortune was terrible? What if I
25) _________ about to hear that I was going to die 26) _________ horrible early death?
I was face to face with 27) _________ inner irrationality and I didn't like it one
only way to win that battle, to prove such 29) _________ was indeed nonsense, was,
of course, to go and 30) _________ the fortune-teller. He turned out to be a small
31) _________ who looked exactly like a carnival barker
in a 32) _________ pinstripe
suit and white-on-white tie, but he had a 33) _________, almost professorial
On place mat-sized paper, he sketched 34) _________ charts that looked like EKGs. My
future didn't hold 35) _________ especially bad, he said. Emboldened, I pressed for
more 36) _________. Would my novel get published? Would I have children? 37) _________
gazed at the charts and he said I would 38) _________ to make the most of my
was 39) _________ and, to be honest, annoyed by all his vagueness,
40) _________ I also
felt something else well up inside my 41) _________: relief. There was no wonderful
news, but no horrible 42) _________, either. For the first time, I felt the power
43) _________ charm of superstition. Of course, it demands
relinquishing a 44) _________
amount of control, not an easy thing for a 45) _________ freak like myself. I think
I'm like many Americans. 46) _________ believe in our unlimited powers. We take
credit for 47) _________ success and accept the blame for our failures. Maybe,
48) _________ maybe, it isn't up to us. Maybe it is 49) _________ in the stars.
comforting thought, but what if
50)_________stars conspire against you? My friend
Yuko has an 51) _________ for that one. `You just try another fortune-teller and,
52) _________ necessary, get another. As many as it
takes,' she 53) _________, `to find
a fortune you like.'
NEARY: Sharon Moshavi lives and wonders about her future in
1. What did Sharon's friend Junko recommend they do about their "bad luck?"
2. What did her friend Yuko recommend?
3. According to Sharon, how do Japanese people think of fortune-telling?
4. Did the fortune-teller give Sharon clear answers to her questions? Explain.
5. How did Sharon feel after talking to the fortune-teller?