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  • New Year's Day came and went but that didn't stop us from visiting as many Shinto shrines throughout Tokyo in the hopes of receiving a "good" fortune for the new year.

    We followed the rules at every shrine. We washed our hands to purify ourselves, dropped some coins in the offering box, clapped our hands twice and bowed our heads in prayer. Then quickly got in line with the masses to draw a fortune slip from the booths lined up with smiling women ready to graciously accept your money.

    This was the fourth shrine we visited and daylight had already faded. I was growing weary of collecting bad fortune slips and tying them to a nearby tree or metal wire on the shrine grounds, hoping to leave my bad luck behind.

    But the luck stayed with us.

    We had drawn fortune slips from separate booths far from each other in case proximity was the reason for our continued negative fortunes.

    "What'd you get this time?"

    Pursing my lips, I unrolled my fortune. "It doesn't look good. The elderly fisherman looks like he's about to keel over."

    He squinted, studying the drawing with the keen eye of a visual artist. "Well, it says the fisherman represents food." He points at the irregular looking bucket with fish falling out of it. "You won't go hungry and that probably means good health for the year."

    I smiled and planted a kiss on his cheek. "Did you get a better fortune this time?"

    Shaking his head, he walked toward the nearest metal wires and tied his fortune. "Something about letting things go and forging new paths."

    I glanced at the rows of fortunes surrounding us and suddenly felt like a trapped animal, fenced in by bad fortunes. He took my hand and we left the shrine behind.

    Later that year, we parted ways.
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