If you're hoping that 2011 will be your best year yet in Japan, think again. I hate to be the one to drop the bomb here, but the Shinto odds are against you. As a matter of fact, 2011 may be your most perilous year yet. Here is why:

In Japan, if you are female and either 19 years old, 33, or 37, you are in your yakudoshi — unlucky years. If you are male, your yakudoshi years are 25, 42 or 60. So if you fall into any of these age groups, you can stop reading now, and just go and sulk. (Disclaimer: These are the yakudoshi ages in my area. Ages can change depending on what part of Japan you live in, so to be extra careful; ask your neighbor). In addition, the year before and after these years are also considered dangerous, but a little less so. You may now whimper.

Most Japanese people acknowledge these years of great danger and do something about it — by going to a shrine and praying really hard that they will be spared.