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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.
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.
Omikuji Ranking from Best to Worse
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.
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:
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:
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…
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.
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.
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.