Let’s consult an oracle at Temples and Shrines in Japan!

Japanese people get their fortunes by consulting an oracle at temples and shrines. It’s very rare to find temples and shrines without them. Today I’d like to show you the types of oracles and their origins.

2016-07-15   Language,

Oracles


【CONTENTS】
Can you guess what these folded papers are?
The origin of oracles
The best is “Daikichi (大吉)!
What do you do after selecting the oracle?
Let’s select one!

Can you guess what these folded papers are?

Have you ever seen specially folded papers attached to trees at temples and shrines in Japan?

These are called omikuji, or oracles, and what is written on the paper is believed to be a message from god. You’ll find a wooden tube at the reception area/shop at temples and shrines. You select an omikuji that will have a number on it from the tube. Give the number to the staff, and they’ll give you the oracle selected for your number. The oracle usually costs 100 yen.

Oracle
A pipe with bamboo oracles.

The origin of oracles

The origin of oracles dates back to the Heian period (794 to 1185).
It originally started as a way for people to determine their destiny from a god. From the beginning of the Kamakura era (1185 to 1333), the oracle became a way to get your fortune. Back then, the oracle was actually prepared by the person praying, submitted to god, and taken back after they finished praying. The most common way now is to select a piece of paper/piece of wood with a pre-written fortune on it, after praying to a god.

The best is “Daikichi (大吉)!

The types oracles are classified as Daikichi, Chukichi, Shokichi, Kichi, Suekichi, Kyo, and Daikyo. Sometimes these are classified with more detail. On your oracle, you’ll see a number, your fortune, your future for love, and your dreams. The contents written on the oracles differ at each temple and shrine.

Oracles
Fortunes

What do you do after selecting the oracle?

You might wonder what you should do with the oracle. No matter what your fortune is, you can either take it with you, or attach it to the trees. If you select a good one and attach it to the temple or shrine, it is believed that your wish will be delivered to god and it will come true. If you select a bad one and attach it to the trees, it is believed that god will give you luck. In this case, attach it with your less dominant hand so that you can overcome the challenges in your life, as it’s believed.

Attaching oracle

You can also take your oracle home and read it out loud to yourself. The oracle is a message from god, so please take good care of it.

Let’s select one!

There are so many types of oracles today. We even have an oracle vending machine!

oracle vending machine
oracle vending machine
Trick oracle
Trick oracle

Oracles differ at each temple and shrine. You can select cute animal shaped, or lucky-charm shaped oracles. These are good for souvenirs.

Rabbit oracles
Rabbit oracles
Sea bream oracle
Sea bream oracle

Please check them out if you’re visiting temples and shrines in Japan!

Oracles

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AUTHOR

kyoami

kyoami

Writer/ Translator

I love Japanese folkcraft article, traditional handicrafts and antiques. I’m seeking the Japanese people’s religious outlooks and its origins that are behind Japanese people’s unique sense and techniques rooted in the ordinary life.