You don’t have to believe Housen Murakami and her charts of Chinese shichu suimei, four pillars of destiny, in this soft, somewhat David Lynchean chamber she has named Maya (after Buddha’s mother). But fortune telling is not just for the superstitious. Murakami’s cool, matronly empathy lets you look at your life differently. For 3,000 yen, she even tells you how and when you will die.

She takes a fresh piece of paper, notes your date and time of birth, and flicks plastic sheathed pages of her handmade charts, taking notes. She looks at you.

Your home-life is relaxed, she says, and you are quite stubborn.
Things are looking up for the next six years, but in your 60s you’ll get sick.
Oh, how sick?
Quite badly. Just a moment, she says, tracing her charts with her finger. I am looking. You will get cancer of the intestine. So try for early detection, OK?

Do you always tell it straight – if you see really bad news for someone?
Of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing my job.

You have a sense of duty and obligation, and you have common sense, but also quite strong likes and dislikes. You are quite trusting of people, and also self-centered.

You have some artistic sense and that’s why you are doing this job. It suits you so you should continue. From next month you’ll find more women are attracted to you. You’ll live until 90, exactly, even though you’ll get cancer.

Ask her, Do you always tell it straight – if you see really bad news for someone?
Of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing my job.
So people break down in tears here.
Yes they have. You’ll have a kid. Are you sure you don’t have one? It seems you have one.
No, quite sure.
You are a bit skeptical. You say some dodgy things.

Some things to look out for: Health scares in July and December. And in June some kind of trouble with someone. But you will succeed, so just work at it, this next six years.

These health scares, this cancer stuff, are you just saying take care, or are you saying…it’s decided.

It’s decided. Unfortunately.

I started here 20 years ago. I have no husband. I had one, but he was seeing other women all the time. I was picking up the phone from his mistress, can you believe it?: I just sent your husband home, can I speak to him please. Sheesh! I wasn’t having it any more. I told him to go to her. I packed all his things in a trunk and left it outside. If it was taken, we were finished, and it went. So we divorced.

I ran a pub restaurant two streets behind here. Called Kohaku. We had 13 staff, two chefs. I made a lot of money. Now I just have the fortune telling.

I am from Aomori but I was sent to an Asakusa priest as a foster child at 18 in return for having the family looked after. I married, my parents died, my husband went out drinking all the time with girls, I left him. And now I am happy.
No worries at all!