During my trip to the Asakusa neighborhood of Tokyo, I stopped by the Sensoji Temple and I discovered Omikuji!
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 starting the process of getting your omikuji, you need to pay ¥100 for your fortune.
After you have finished paying, shake a box full of numbered sticks that will decide your fate.
After a few seconds of shaking, remove one stick from the box, read the number, and place the stick back in the shaker.
Based on the number that your stick has on it, select a fortune paper (omikuji) from the appropriate drawer.
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:
- (大吉): great blessing
- (中吉): middle blessing
- (小吉): small blessing
- (吉) blessing
- (半吉): half-blessing
- (末吉): future blessing
- (末小吉): future small blessing
- (凶): curse
- (小凶): small curse
- (半凶): half-curse
- (末凶): future curse
- (大凶): great curse
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.
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.
thank you for your great post!!
You are very welcome Anyong!
Thanks :D..I saw a photo on Instagram and didn’t a clue what what is, now I know thanks to you more
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!
I also visited the temple and took photos but yours is really like a documentary. Simply love it 🙂
Thank you so much!
Hi. Do you know where I can find a box like that? It was so fun doing that in Japan. I want to do a similar activity at my daughter’ school for Japan Fair. Thanks!
Unfortunately, I am not sure where to find one outside of Japan.
Which shrine or temple did you go to for these photos? We are going to Japan and I would love some pointers.
Hello Micah, this was at the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa!
How did you feel about your fortune
I was sad to get a bad fortune Rená, however, I think that leaving it there was good because nothing negative has come from the fortune so far. 🙂