Would you like to attract more luck and success? Who wouldn’t right? The Japanese people have many traditions that is believed to improve one’s health, love life, and finances. Many of these beliefs are based on Shintoism and Buddhism, and have been passed on from generation to generation. Here are some lucky charms to help improve your luck in 2018.
When Japanese people visit shrines or temples they also take the opportunity to expresses their wishes to the gods. Omamori are special keepsakes that you can buy there. They are usually a small piece of wood or paper with an inscription inside a drawstring cloth carrier. The literal meaning of Omamori is “to protect” and many people bring it around with them as a sort of talisman against threats and danger such as vehicle accidents, fire, illness, etc. They are also believed to protect the household and are sometimes placed near the doorway or in the Kamidama (Shinto altars) in Japanese homes. These are referred to as Ofuda. It is also possible to ask a priest to create a customized Omamori for a specific request.
To stay in tune with the times, Omamori has evolved into many forms such as sticker decals, bike reflectors and even credit cards. Prior to 1950, most Omamori are made of wood or paper but nowadays they also appear in plastic.
Daruma are round Japanese figurines often made of papier-mâché. They are said to be inspired by Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. Darumas represent perseverance because when they are knocked down, they simply spring back up. They are also symbols of good luck and serve as inspiration to achieve goals for the coming year. Darumas come in different colors depending on the intent and goal you wish to achieve.
When you get a Daruma doll, you will notice that it has no eyes. One must paint or draw one eye while setting a goal or intention and only when the wish comes true or the goal is reached can the other eye be drawn. So, a one-eyed Daruma serves as a reminder of an unfulfilled goal and reminds the individual to strive and finish it.
Old Darumas are then brought back the temple during the New Year to give thanks for prayers that have come true. They are burned in a ritual called Daruma Kuyo.
Origami Paper Crane（折り鶴）
Origami is a popular artform where paper is artfully folded to into many creative figures. But one Origami form is said to represent good fortune. These are paper cranes that symbolize longevity and good fortune. White cranes are associated with the New Year as well as wedding celebrations. In Japan, cranes are considered sacred mythical creatures that are believed to live a thousand years. It is thought that when you fold and tie one thousand cranes together (Senbazuru 千羽鶴), your special wish will be granted. Other legends say that doing so will give you eternal good luck. A father will customarily give this to his child who is getting married to wish the couple a thousand years of joy and prosperity.
If you’ve ever entered a Japanese store, you might have noticed cat figurines with one paw raised up as if summoning someone. These are known as Maneki Neko or welcoming cats. They are believed to bring good luck to a business owner hoping for more sales. If the right paw is raised then it beckons money and good business while the left paw calls people and happiness. Occasionally, you will come across both paws raised, although some people frown upon this thinking the owner might be too greedy. A Maneki Neko will usually hold a gold coin. This coin is known as the koban which was a monetary unit during the Edo period. On it is the symbol for ‘ryo’ or ten million which is a huge fortune in those times. If you don’t own a business, then a Maneki Neko coin bank might help you save more money instead.
Many Japanese gardens feature pine trees that are known to withstand even the harshest climate conditions. Thus, they are thought to be symbols of auspicious fortune. At the beginning of the year, an arrangement featuring a pine, bamboo and ume (plums) called Kadomatsu（門松） is prepared by many households and placed in the entrance of homes and businesses. The Kadomatsu is made to honor and house the toshigami (deity) who grants good blessings and fortune.
Even if you don’t consider yourself superstitious, it doesn’t hurt to participate in these traditions. Who knows, you might be attracting positive energy and good things may start happening to you.
Do you have unique traditions in your country that is believed to bring luck and good fortune? Do share them with us. 🙂
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