What is Yakudoshi?

Over the last few months, Mami and I have been seriously saving for a house. We’ve visited a few but have yet to find one we’re happy with. While I knew that I might encounter problems getting a mortgage, I figured that because she is Japanese we would be okay… but it looks like it won’t be that easy.

Firstly, most banks won’t loan money to foreigners unless they have permanent residency status. While it varies from prefecture to prefecture, Gifu Immigration requires that you have been in Japan for ten years, or have been married to a Japanese national for at least three years. Well, it’s only been eight and a half years since I first got a working visa (I was on a tourist visa during my homestay and subsequent job search, which doesn’t count), and I’ve only been married for just over a year, so that rules me out. Another prerequisite is that you have been working for the same company for the last three years or more, which I have.

Secondly, Mami can’t get a mortgage since she is still in her first year working at the hospital and was a college student before that, so she doesn’t have the financial records necessary for such a large loan, yet. I could be wrong, but I think even a Japanese must have been at the same place of work for the last three years.

The only chance we have is to get a loan under both our names, which one bank we know said they can do. However, these are the Yakudoshi years, so it looks like we will have to wait (and waste more money on rent).

So what is Yakudoshi?

To quote the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s website,

Bad luck years are reffered to as yakudoshi, with yaku meaning “calamity” or “calamitous” and doshi signifying “year(s)”. These years are considered critical or dangerous because they are believed to bring bad luck or disaster.

Taking out a mortgage during the yakudoshi years is apparently destined to end in misery. At first I thought Mami was overexaggerating, but it seems many people agree with her, and when I think about it, I don’t walk under ladders, open an umbrella indoors, or break mirrors for the very same reasons.

So that means that I don’t really have any choice other than to wait for and hope I get permanent residency. It just frustrates me that someone who has been in Japan for three years, but married all that time is eligible for the PR visa, but I’m not. Such is life I guess.  

UPDATE! Read the latest on our house-hunting exploits: Getting a mortage in Japan. 

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