Japanese Lucky charms

The lucky charms are called Engimono(縁起物) in Japanese. Japan has a lot of lucky charms that are really interesting. We can see Omomori and talismans in Japanese shrines and temples. The sculptures of some animals and birds are also used as lucky charms and protectors.

1. Omamori

Photo by Joseph Tame on Flickr

Omamori are amulets dedicated to gods. These are available in shrines and temples of Japan. Various kinds of Omamori amulets are there each meant for protection and good fortune in different areas. Omamori for safe driving, protection, for good luck in education etc. are available. Japanse society believes in this amulets enclosed with prayers to god. They used to keep these amulets in their wallets, or vehicles for protection. Opening the Omamori amulets is considered unlucky.

2. The carp(KOI fish)

Koi fishes could be seen ponds associated with Japanese gardens, temples and shrines.They are a symbol of good luck and happiness. They are believed as the symbol of courage and willpower as they could swim across the stream. Koinobori is the wind stocks hanged in front of houses with boy kids on May 5th as part of the “Tano no Sekku”, the boys festival. “Sachihoko” is the Koi fish pairs seen on top of the castle buildings which are the symbol of fertility.

3. Maneki Neko

Maneki neko

The beckoning cat / Maneki Neko could be seen at the entrance of most shops. these are found in many postures and colours, but the cat with a lifted left front hand is the most popular one. It is believed to attract wealth and good luck.

4. Daruma

Red coloured Daruma Dolls with a man’s face is believed to bring you many fortunes. These could be seen in different colours, even though the reddish one is more popular. Red, Blue, Yellow, White and golden are the various varieties. There are places which let you make your own daruma using paper.  Red Daruma is meant for bringing you good fortune, blue for good health and longevity, Yellow Daruma protects you and the golden one brings wealth and prosperity while the white daruma brings harmony and love.

5. Owl

Owl/ Fukurou is kept in gardens wishing for a life “free of hardship” and believed to provide protection. Dangles and toys are very popular among Japanese.

6. Crane

Crane/Tsuru are commonly associated with New year, marriage etc. Wedding kimonos with crane paintings and embroideries are very common. Origami paper cranes and the story of Sadako is very famous. They are believed to bring good luck, health and prosperity.

Depending on the occasion various lucky charms and symbols are used in Japan. Tortoise, plum flowers, cherry blossoms, etc are some other traditional lucky charms in Japan.