When visiting Japan, many people have shrines on their lists of places to see. You will see many Japanese picking up omikuji, random fortunes written on strips of paper at shrines and temples. Usually, you can drop a 100 yen coin in a donation box and pick one. The fortunes are divided into five levels in ascending order of fortune: Dai-kichi (大吉), Kichi (吉), Chu-kichi (中吉), Sho-kichi (小吉), Ku (凶). If you get a Ku (bad fortune), you should tie it to a tree branch or pole that is close by to get rid of your bad luck!
In this feature, we introduce some of the more interesting omikuji you can find in the Kanto region, mainly places in and close to Tokyo.
Otori Jinja (鷲神社)
Otori Shrine is located close to Asakusa and although it is not as well known as Sensoji, the Tori-no-Ichi festival is held here every year ushering in hoards of people from all over Tokyo. The omikuji in this shrine is that of a maneki-neko, good luck cat!
The fortune is hidden in the belly of the lucky cat. Just pull it out, check your fortune and keep the neko as a souvenir.
Shinjuku Hanazono Jinja (新宿花園神社)
Hanazono Shrine in the bustling area of Shinjuku is also known for its Tori-no-Ichi festivities. You can get two kinds of omikuji here. First, let’s look at the daruma that comes in red and white. Red is considered to be a color that is known to ward off evil since ancient times.
While white is considered auspicious as it stands for purity. From both of these, you can pull out your fortune from the base.
The other type of omikuji found here is that of a little fox. Hanazono Shrine is an Inari shrine, the Shinto god of rice, and foxes are considered the messenger of Inari. There are several other Inari shrines with a fox omikuji so most people buy the daruma one here.
Enoshima Jinja (江島神社)
Enoshima Shrine is located on the beautiful Enoshima Island in Kamakura, and it takes only about an hour from Tokyo to get here. Enoshima Shrine is on the top of the island and is one of the three largest Benzaiten shrines in Japan. Benzaiten is the goddess of knowledge and talent and the omikuji here is shaped like her.
Benzaiten is traditionally seen as holding a biwa, Japanese lute.
Kawagoe Hikawa Jinja (川越氷川神社)
Kawagoe enjoys popularity for its old-style Edo buildings. But one of its most famed spots where you see many cherry blossoms is close to the Hikawa river. Hikawa Shrine in Kawagoe is known for bringing good luck with matchmaking & relationships and it has the most adorable omikuji.
The omikuji here is in the shape of a sea bream called tai in Japanese, which is a homonym for good luck. The two types of omikuji are an-tai and ai-tai, each meaning safety and meeting respectively. You pick the fish using a fishing rod and pull out the omikuji from underneath the fish.
Kameido Tenjin Jinja (龜戶天神社)
Kameido Tenjin Shrine is a shrine dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, a 9th century Japanese scholar, and so the omikuji is also designed to represent Michizane. The omikuji is like an origami in this case and even after you open it, you can neatly fold it as take it home as a souvenir. This shrine is known for its gorgeous wisteria as well.
Omikuji only in Shibuya!
The last omikuji is not one you get from the shrine but we couldn’t help but introduce it. Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten in Shibuya’s new landmark SHIBUYA SCRAMBLE SQUARE sells these adorable Hachiko omikuji. Almost everyone must be aware of Hachiko, the loyal dog who would patiently wait at Shibuya Station for his master. A papier mache Hachiko with a fortune that you can put out from the bottom, a rather cute memorabilia from the Shibuya area.
Aren’t all of these really cute? Some of them cost around 200-300 yen but since each shrine has its own special omikuji, collecting these can be a good way to remember all the shrines you visit in Japan!
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