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I share an apartment with five Japanese people – two girls and three guys – and on Sunday night I walked into our kitchen to discover one of the girls recharging her power stone. The stone was pink and smooth, some kind of quartz or something. She said she bought it in Peru. Recharging it involved sitting next to our stove, which is ventilated by a hood, and holding a smoking piece of white sage under the rock. “It stinks!” she yelled 10 minutes later before walking back into her room. “It smells like medicine!”

My other female roommate once went to a fortune teller. She said it cost ¥15,000 for an hour and a half, during which time she could ask anything. She collected business cards from her friends at work and brought them along, generously offering to use some of her time to ask about their future. “She told me this girl was going to have a lot of problems,” she told me in a low voice, holding one of the business cards in her hand.

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