Japan Temples and Shrines

Omikuji – Fortune telling

At visits to shrines and temples, many Japanese draw a piece of paper called Omikuji, that tells their fortune for the next year. Omikuji has nearly 1000 years of history and is said to have started when people drew lots to hear a divine opinion on such things as predicting government decisions or choosing a successor. It has evolved into a way to predict the fortunes of individual people, showing a person’s overall fortune for the future as well as a prediction for detailed items including health, work, love, business, study and travel.

The fee for Omikuji varies at each shrine and temple, but it is usually about 100 to 200 yen. To receive Omikuji you usually use a square pillar box or a cylinder box which contains long, thin sticks called “Mikuji-bo”. The stick has a number and you find the drawer with your number and take out a slip of paper from the drawer.

The Omikuji shows your overall fortune for the future with ranking of “Dai-kichi, Kichi, Chu-kichi, Sho-kichi, and Kyo”, meaning excellent luck, general luck, middle luck, small luck, and bad luck respectively. It also explains how you can improve your luck. Below is an example of the paper in multiple languages, which is not uncommon at some of the larger temples. The four lick categories are by no means universal – there can be many degrees of luck.

If you extract general or excellent luck, one usually take these home with you, and keep them with you. They should always be returned to the temple during the first visit after New Year, where they will be burned at a specially ceremony, Hatsumode. Many temples and shrines are packed during the first days of the New Year, over 3 million visitors in three days is often cited, as visitors return their Omikuji to be burnt and collect a new one for the year ahead. If you have a bad luck Omikuji, you can hang them in a special area within the temple.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *