Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Omikuji - Gumball Machine of Destiny

With it being the beginning of the year, a lot of Japanese will head to a shrine for the "first visit of the year". The "first X of the year" (first bath, first sunrise, and even first sex!) is traditionally important because New Year's is the biggest holiday of the year and represents a renewal of just about everything.

While on this visit, or any time of year, for a coin or two you can get "omikuji" おみくじ small, folded paper fortunes that predict your coming luck. They're labeled in a systematic way, all the way from the most lucky, "Dai-Kichi" ( 大吉 Big Luck) down to "Dai-Kyou" (大凶 Big Curse), and then have specific predictions regarding your business luck, love life, travel luck, etc. They're often chosen by pulling a numbered stick from a box, or from a coin-operated box you turn a handle in, just like a gumball machine. Adults don't take them very seriously, for the most part, but it is a tradition that everyone continues, sort of like horoscopes here in the States.

During my years in Japan, I got both Dai-Kichi and Dai-Kyou in addition to ones in-between, but the Dai-Kyou was the most memorable. I wasn't able to read a lot of Japanese yet, but was at a temple large enough to have English side-by-side with the traditional Japanese script. Here's basically how it read:

"Love: Your lover will not come. Business: Your business will fail. Travel: All travel will go badly."

And then, for my overall luck it said, and I'm not kidding:

"You will die."

Fortunately, when your omikuji gives you a line out of The Grudge, you can delay your fate by tying the fortune on a tree branch at the shrine or on special cords strung along posts set up for that reason. If your fortune is a lucky one, you can also tie it in the same way to ensure the luck will stick.

Either way, if you get one, tie that sucker to a tree! It can't hurt.


Kelly Maple said...

'When your omikuji gives you a line from The Grudge...'

Muahahahaha! This comment made me laugh so hard I fell off my bed! XD

Kelly Maple said...

'... when your omikuji gives you a line out of The Grudge...'

Bwahahahaha! This line had me laughing so hard I fell off my bed! XD

Seriously though, I learnt quite a few new things from this post, so you've made me very happy. Thanks for blogging! ^.^