Omikuji: A Guide to Fortune Telling in Japan

Omikuji (おみくじ) are Japanese fortune-telling paper strips that can be found at shrines and temples throughout the country. The fortune that one is granted can range from having a great blessing (大吉) to a great curse (大凶).

While I do not personally believe in fortune telling, I thought it would be interesting to experience this unique aspect of Japanese culture and to see what kind of fortune I might get.

When start the process of getting your omikuji, you need to pay ¥100 for your fortune.

Omikuji 100 yen

After you have finished paying, shake a box full of numbered sticks that will decide your fate.

Omikuji box

Hoping for good luck as I shake the box

After a few seconds of shaking, remove one stick from the box, read the number, and place the stick back in the shaker.

Omikuji stick

Based on the number that your stick had on it, select a fortune paper (omikuji) from the appropriate drawer.


Smiling… before I read my fortune

After selecting your fortune from the drawer, read it. Some temples (such as Senso-ji) will have an English translation of the fortune on the back of the paper for you, while some will not. In this case, here is a handy ‘cheat sheet’ for you:

Omikuji Bad Fortune

Reading my bad fortune 🙁

If you select a bad fortune like I did, do not keep it! The tradition is to tie your fortune to a pole, a tree, or between a door and leave it at the site of the temple.

Omikuji bad fortune

Tie your bad fortune like so

If you are lucky enough to get a good fortune reading, carry it with you.

For more on the history of Omikuji, check out these informative articles by Zooming Japan and Japan Talk.

Have you ever gotten your fortune told in Japan before? Share your experience below!
By |2017-07-30T01:10:00+00:00May 25th, 2015|Japan|6 Comments


  1. Anyong Lee Mar 25, 2017 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    thank you for your great post!!

  2. Carmen Rodriguez Garcia Sep 10, 2018 at 7:45 am - Reply

    Thanks :D..I saw a photo on Instagram and didn’t a clue what what is, now I know thanks to you more

    • Chanel Sep 11, 2018 at 8:52 am - Reply

      I am glad that I helped you to get a better understanding of Omikuji, Carmen! I hope that you can experience it for yourself one day!

  3. Rutilicus Dec 9, 2018 at 1:14 am - Reply

    I also visited the temple and took photos but yours is really like a documentary. Simply love it 🙂

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.