Next Stop, Japan

Next Stop, Japan

Omikuji - Fortune Paper


In Shinto shrines all across Japan, omikuji (御神籤) can be found. Omikuji are a written divination about a person's near future. They dispense general advice about things like which direction is best, travel, business and illness. Generally, they are left out in a wooden box near the shrine with a sign stating how much for one. It's somewhat traditional that they are completely self-serve and actually paying the requested amount is entirely on your own conscience.

After paying, you unroll the folded paper and take a look at your fortune. Fortunes are divided into different levels of luck and misfortune.

Fortune Level Translations

Here's a list and translations of commonly used levels. Most shrines do not use all of the categories.

  • 大吉 - Daikichi - Excellent luck (Immediately go gamble and buy lottery tickets)
  • 吉 - Kichi - Good luck
  • 中吉 - Cyukichi - Fair luck
  • 小吉 - Syokichi - A little luck
  • 半吉 - Hankichi - Semi-good luck
  • 末吉 - Suekichi - Uncertain luck
  • 末小吉 - Suekokichi - Uncertain but a little luck
  • 凶 - Kyou - Bad luck (Misfortune)
  • 小凶 - Syokyou - A little misfortune
  • 半凶 - Hankyou - semi-misfortunate
  • 末凶 - Suekyou - Uncertain misfortune
  • 大凶 - Daikyou - Certain disaster (consider buying a karmic life insurance policy)

From ancient times Japanese people have used lotteries at festivals to decide the God's will in important matters. The current style of personal fortune telling paper was introduced in the Kamakura period (1185-1333).

Many Buddhist temples have omikuji as well, but some use the characters 御仏籤 instead of 御神籤.

Itsukushima Shrine Omikuji

As an example, click the image on the right to look at one of Itsukushima Shrine's Omikuji. It reads in the traditional way from right to left. The first thing to look at is the level of luck. In this case, I pulled a uncertain but somewhat lucky fortune (bottom of 3rd panel from the right).

The 4th and 5th panel from the right are a general fortune. From the 6th to the 9th panel are sunshine and shadow fortunes about various aspects of my life. Will the person I'm waiting for come? Is traveling good?

  • 方角 - Hougaku - Direction (東 - East)
  • 失物 - Shitsubutsu - Lost Things (いでがたし)
  • 緑談 - (よし - Good)
  • 旅立 - Tabidashi - Starting a trip (よし - Good)
  • 商売 - Shyobai - Business
  • 待人 - Machihito - Waiting for person (来たる - Will arrive)
  • 病気 - Byouki - Illness (ほんぷくむつかし - Complete recovery, difficult)
  • 建家 - Tateya - Building
  • 勝負事 - Shyoubugoto - Gambling Luck (Gonna lose)

Narita-san Shinshoji Temple Omikuji

Narita-san Shinsho-ji Temple is located close to Narita Airport. Many travellers with a few hours to spare head to it. Due to this, its omikuji are translated into English, Korean and Chinese.

Touka Shrine Omikuji

Touka Shrine is in Hiroshima in the general direction of the Fuji Grand. A large festival takes place at the start of June there. The first omikuji is a good fortune and the second is a "bad" fortune. The "bad" fortune isn't really that terrible. Well, that's what I tell myself because I was the one that got it.

See Also: Itsukushima Shrine or Narita-san Shinshoji Temple

Posted: April 21, 2011 Updated: April 19, 2015


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