Japanese Lucky Charms in Temples and Shrines   縁起物

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A ema is a wooden plaque containing prayers or wishes found in the Shinto temples in Japan.

A ema is a wooden plaque containing prayers or wishes found in the Shinto temples in Japan.



Sacred Shopping

Buddhist or Shinto, temples and shrines abound in Japanese lucky charms, charms or horoscopes sold directly by the priests in sacred places. They are among the favorite souvenirs of visitors to Japan.

Here is a small list of different lucky charms or horoscopes sold in Japanese temples and shrines.


Deriving from the word meaning "protection", the omamori are little brocade bags containing a prayer or a sacred inscription. They are found in both Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. The omamori is named after the temple from which it comes, carries its emblem and an embroidered motif. Each omamori represents the uniqueness of the temple. Some people collect them. An omamori serves as your protection in very specific cases: health, success in studies, marriage, against road accidents ... be sure to make the right choice!


Less common than omamori the suzu, Japanese bells, are also popular lucky charms. The small bell is often delicately painted and decorated, but it is its beautiful sound which makes it popular.


The ofuda will be more cumbersome, especially if you buy the largest model. They are wooden boards wrapped in  paper with prayers or simply the name of the temple. A red seal makes the charm "official". The Japanese buy them to hang in the altar of their homes. More convenient for foreign visitors, there is now smaller ofuda, the size of an omamori, to hang on to your bag.


It's not exactly a lucky charm, but a votive plaque you buy for writing a wish or a prayer. The ema is then hung on a display inside the temple. Again, ema are often customized to reflect the personality of each temple or its divinity. Be aware that the prayers written in English also work!


These are the Japanese horoscopes. You will have to shake an octagonal box from which you will draw a stick. This corresponds to a locker in the small adjoining closet, where your horoscope is. These are divided into four types: very lucky (Daikichi), lucky (kichi), average luck (Shokichi), and no luck (kyo). Rest assured, if your prediction is bad, you can avert it by hanging the omikuji on the branches of a tree or on a special display in the temple. And nothing canstop you from trying your luck again!

The purchase of these lucky charms may seem vain or trivial, but it is the best cash flow for temples, which are privately run. Tell yourself that you are participating in the protection and restoration of the places you visit.

Comments Read comments from our travellers

Omamori is wonderful

I love omamori.