Did you have a hatsuyume (初夢, first dream of the new year) and did it involve hebi (蛇, snakes)? If the answer is yes to both, omedetō gozaimasu (おめでとうございます, congratulations), you’ve hit the jackpot, at least on the unsei (運勢, fortune and destiny) front for the coming year. Hebidoshi (巳年, The Year of the Snake) has officially kicked in, and though this particular jūnishi (十二支, 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac) symbol isn’t blessed with the same cute, accessible image as say, the u (卯, rabbit) or ne (子, mouse), there’s plenty of good stuff to say about it. On the archipelago the snake is known to have reiryoku (霊力, spiritual powers) and dreams with snakes in them signify future prosperity, or at least a windfall — maybe as early as next week.

This is what I keep telling my friend Sayuri, a toshionna (年女, a woman born in a year with the same animal sign as the current year) who has routinely denied the fact these past couple of years. “Who wants to date a hebionna (蛇女, snake woman) in this day and age of sōshoku danshi (草食男子, herbivore men)?” is the reason for her denial. To curb any revealing hebionna traits, Sayuri has decided to switch to jimi-meiku (地味メイク, inconspicuous make-up) throughout the year. Nothing with glitter and very little on the gloss. No coiling her hair on top of her head. No lounge lizard-y pants over snakeskin boots. “Hebi wo rensō saseru mono wa zenbu dame” (「蛇を連想させるものは全部ダメ」, “Anything that suggests snakes is a no-no”) she says, and has even thrown out her leopard-skin mules, despite me telling her they were mammalian, not reptilian.

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