What is Omikuji? – Unveiling Fortunes and Tradition in Japan


Konnichiwa! Today, we explore omikuji. This traditional practice, rooted in Japanese culture, has captivated locals and visitors alike for centuries. Join me as we explore the history, significance, and delightful experience of omikuji, and learn how to uncover your fate through these charming strips of paper.

What is Omikuji?

  • Omikuji (おみくじ) are fortune-telling papers found in Japanese shrines and temples.
  • These strips of paper reveal one’s fortune, offering insights into various aspects of life, including luck, love, health, and career.
  • Omikuji is popular among people seeking guidance or those simply looking for a touch of serendipity.
trip to japan

Planning a trip to Japan?

What is the Origin of Omikuji?

  • Omikuji has its origins in Chinese fortune-telling practices.
  • The tradition of omikuji was introduced to Japan during the Nara period (710-794).
  • The practice gained popularity during the Edo period (1603-1868) and has since become an integral part of Japanese culture.

Omikuji in Japanese Culture

  • Omikuji is widely embraced in Japan, reflecting the nation’s deep-rooted beliefs in fortune-telling, divination, and fate.
  • It is common for people to obtain omikuji during festive occasions, New Year’s celebrations, or visits to shrines and temples.
  • Omikuji is seen as a source of amusement, inspiration, and spiritual connection with the divine.

Obtaining Omikuji

  • Omikuji can be obtained at various temples and shrines throughout Japan.
  • Look for a designated omikuji area or a small booth near the main prayer hall.
  • Approach the omikuji vending area respectfully and follow any instructions or donation guidelines.
japanese temple
Japanese Shinto Shrine providing Omikuji

The Omikuji Experience

  • Begin by making a small offering (usually a coin or a few hundred yen) in the designated donation box.
  • Shake a cylindrical container, typically made of bamboo, until a thin, numbered stick comes out.
  • Find the drawer or compartment corresponding to your stick’s number and retrieve your omikuji.

Reading and Interpreting Omikuji

  • Omikuji typically includes a written fortune and additional details.
  • Fortunes range from excellent (daikichi) to bad luck (daikyo) and everything in between.
  • The specific content of the omikuji depends on the shrine or temple visited.

Interpreting Omikuji Examples

  • Example 1: Love Fortune
    • “Your love life shall flourish like cherry blossoms in spring.”
    • This omikuji suggests that the recipient’s romantic endeavors will be successful and fulfilling.
    • It is an encouraging fortune for those seeking love or looking to strengthen existing relationships.
  • Example 2: Career Fortune
    • “Your diligence and hard work will lead to prosperous opportunities.”
    • This omikuji predicts professional success and advancement.
    • It encourages the recipient to persevere, assuring them that their efforts will be rewarded.
  • Example 3: Health Fortune
    • “Take care of your well-being, as small ailments may arise.”
    • This omikuji reminds the recipient to prioritize their health and seek medical attention for any emerging issues.
    • It serves as a gentle cautionary message, encouraging proactive self-care.

Omikuji Etiquette and Tradition

  • Regardless of the fortune received, it is customary to fold and tie the omikuji to a designated rack or branch.
  • This act symbolizes leaving the outcome to fate and respecting the guidance received.
  • Some traditions suggest that if you receive a bad fortune, you can tie the omikuji to a tree or rack at the temple or shrine to leave the negativity behind.
  • It is considered disrespectful to discard or throw away an omikuji, as it is believed to bring bad luck.
  • If you desire another omikuji, wait for an appropriate time (e.g., the following year or on a different occasion) before obtaining a new one.
omikuji rope
Omikuji tied to rope after reading fortune

Fun Facts about Omikuji

  • Omikuji often come in different colors, with each color representing a specific aspect or area of life. For example, pink might symbolize love and relationships, while green could represent health and well-being.
  • Some temples and shrines offer additional features with their omikuji, such as lucky charms or amulets (omamori) associated with the fortune received.
  • The tradition of omikuji has expanded beyond temples and shrines, with modern versions available in various forms, including smartphone apps and online platforms.

Omikuji Superstitions and Beliefs

  • Some people strongly believe in the power of omikuji, considering it an accurate reflection of their fate.
  • It is not uncommon for individuals to keep their omikuji as a talisman or reminder of the guidance received.
  • Omikuji can also serve as conversation starters and topics of discussion among friends and family.


Omikuji captures the essence of Japan’s rich cultural tapestry, blending spirituality, fortune-telling, and a touch of whimsy. This charming tradition continues to captivate visitors and locals alike, offering a delightful experience and a glimpse into the realm of destiny. Whether you seek guidance, wish to revel in the serendipity of life, or simply want to embrace Japanese customs, obtaining and interpreting an omikuji is a must-do activity. So, on your next visit to Japan, don’t forget to shake the bamboo cylinder, receive your omikuji, and let fate unfold before your eyes.

Remember, life’s fortunes are ever-changing, and an omikuji is a snapshot of the present moment. Embrace the guidance it offers, and let your journey in the land of omikuji begin!

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