When you visit a shrine or a temple in Japan, you probably find Omikuji and Omamori. They are not expensive, about 100 yen, so it's interesting to buy one to experience Japanese culture.
Omikuji are random fortunes written on strips of paper. Literally "sacred lot", these are usually received by making a small offering and randomly choosing one from a box, hoping for the resulting fortune to be good.
The Omikuji is scrolled up or folded, and unrolling the piece of paper reveals the fortune written on it. It includes a general blessing which can be any one of the following:
· Great blessing (dai-kichi, 大吉)
· Middle blessing (chū-kichi, 中吉)
· Small blessing (shō-kichi, 小吉)
· Blessing (kichi, 吉)
· Half-blessing (han-kichi, 半吉)
· Ending blessing (sue-kichi, 末吉)
· Ending small blessing (sue-shō-kichi, 末小吉)
· Curse (kyō, 凶)
· Small curse (shō-kyō, 小凶)
· Half-curse (han-kyō, 半凶)
· Ending curse (sue-kyō, 末凶)
· Great curse (dai-kyō, 大凶)
It then lists fortunes regarding specific aspects of one's life such as marriage, cure of disease, study, business.
The Omikuji predicts the person's chances of hopes coming true.
When the prediction is bad, it is a custom to fold up the strip of paper and attach it to a pine tree or a wall of metal wires alongside other bad fortunes in the temple or shrine grounds.
Omamori are Japanese charms commonly sold at religious sites and dedicated to particular Shinto deities as well as Buddhist figures, and may serve to provide various forms of luck or protection.
The word Omamori means protection. Originally made from paper or wood, modern Omamori are small items usually kept inside a brocade bag and may contain a prayer, religious inscription of invocation.
While omamori are intended for temple tourists' personal use, they are mainly viewed as a donation to the temple or shrine. Visitors often give omamori as a gift to another person as a physical form of well-wishing.
Omamori may provide general blessings and protection, or may have a specific focus such as:
· kōtsū-anzen : traffic safety.
· yaku-yoke : avoidance of evil
· kaiun : open luck, better fortune
· gakugyō-jōju : education and passing examinations.
· shōbai-hanjō : Success in business and matters of money
· en-musubi : acquisition of a mate and marriage.
· Anzan : protection for pregnant women
· kanai-anzen : safety (well-being) of one's family
Customarily, omamori should never be opened in order to avoid losing their protective benefits, and should be carried on one's person, or tied to a backpack, purse, etc.
(Source: Naritasan Shinshoji temple )