Omikuji - Japanese Fortune Slips
Omikuji can be purchased at shrines and temples for between 100 and 300 yen. In most cases, the fortunes are written on a small, white paper and placed in some sort of container.
When to Get an Omikuji – New Year’s Day, Japanese Festivals, Etc.
Although New Year’s Day and Japanese festivals (祭りmatsuri festivals, 梅雨 tsuyu festivals in June/July, etc.) serve as the peak times for omikuji fortunes, there is no rule or strict guide that prohibits a person from getting one any other day of the year. In fact, a lot of members of the Japanese community acquire omikuji simply whenever they feel like it.
Where to Get an Omikuji – Shrines and Temples
Omikujis can be found in nearly every temple and shrine in Japan. The majority of omikujis provided by these religious places feature Japanese writing but English omikujis are slowly becoming popular, as well.
Different Degrees of Luck
Omikuji Ranking from Best to Worse
大吉 (DAIKICHI)→ 中吉 (CHUKICHI)→ 小吉 (SHOUKICHI)→ 吉 (KICHI)→ 凶(KYOU)→ 大凶 (DAIKYOU)
The character 吉 (kichi) means good fortune and 凶 (kyou) means bad fortune or curse. 大 (dai) means big or great. Therefore, 大吉 is the best fortune, and 大凶 is the worst. In addition, omikuji foretell in detail one’s individual fortune in such matters as money, a trip, health, an expected visitor, or something you are searching for.
Meanings of Omikujis
Omikujis are often folded or scrolled up to keep their respective fortunes hidden until they are chosen by a person. Each omikuji includes a general blessing that ranges from a great curse to a great blessing. The pronunciation, writing, and English translation of each blessing are as follows:
- Dai kichi (大吉) – which means a great blessing
- Chu kichi (中吉) – which means a middle blessing
- Sho kichi (小吉) – which means a small blessing
- Kichi (吉) – which means a blessing
- Han kichi (半吉) – which means half a blessing
- Sue kichi (末吉) – which means a blessing in the future
- Suo sho kichi (末小吉) – which means a small blessing in the future
- Kyo (凶) – which means a curse
- Sho kyo (小凶) – which means a small curse
- Han kyo (半凶) – which means half a curse
- Sue kyo (末凶) – which means a curse in the future
- Dai kyo (大凶) – which means a great curse
The omikuji also often includes a list of things the general blessing is for. After one has identified what kind of blessing, he has gotten, the following terms should be noted to be able to understand what aspects of his life are being regarded by the fortune:
- Hogaku (方角) – which may refer to an auspicious or inauspicious direction •
- Negaigoto (願事) – which refers to one’s desire or wish
- Machibito (待人) – which refers to a person being expected or waited for
- Usemono (失せ物) – which refers to a lost object or article
- Tabidachi (旅立ち) – which refers to travel
- Akinai (商い) – which refers to business matters or transactions
- Gakumon (学問) – which refers to knowledge or education
- Soba (相場) – which refers to market speculation
- Arasoigoto (争事) – which refers to disagreements or disputes
- Ren’ai (恋愛) – which refers to love or romantic relationships
- Tenkyo (転居) – which refers to a change in residence or relocation
- Shussan (出産) – which refers to pregnancy or childbirth
- Byoki (病気) – which refers to one’s health
- Endan (縁談) – which refers to an engagement or marriage
After You’ve Drawn Your Omikuji
On a note, you draw your omikuji after you finish visiting the temple or shrine, not before. After you’ve checked the contents of your fortune, you take the omikuji and…
1 …tie it to a tree on the premises.
Doing this is thought to cause your fortune to be “tied” to the presiding gods or Buddhas. It’s said that if you take a bad fortune and tie it using your non-dominant hand, it’ll change the bad luck into good. Most of the time, there will be one tree used for tying fortunes, so take a good look around you before you tie.
2 …take it home with you.
Some people take the view that the omikuji holds a certain power or message of gratitude from the gods/Buddhas, so they take the paper home with the intent of following the advice or admonishments printed on it. A few days later, they’ll return to the temple or shrine to tie it as an expression of gratitude.
3 …take it home if it’s good, tie it to a tree if it’s bad.
In this method, the idea is tying a “凶” omijuki asks for divine protection from the misfortune written within. If the fortune is good, however, you do the same as the people in example 2 and take it home, bringing it back later to be tied.
*There is no established “proper” method for dealing with an omikuji after drawing it, so we’ve included the most common here.