Omamori

I gave several of my friends omamori (お守り) as souvenirs from my last trip to Japan so I decided to write up something explaining what they are.

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omiyage (souvenir) omamori purchased for friends at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto – April 2015

In short, they are amulets or talismans sold at shrines to ward off bad luck.

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omamori being sold by miko-san (shrine maidens) at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura – April 2015

They are often a brocade bag holding a wooden, metal or paper object with a prayer inscribed on it that has been made sacred through rituals performed by the priests at the shrine (or temple – Japan has a blurry line between Buddhism and their indigenous religion, Shinto). The recipient of the charm usually carries it with them (in their wallet, attached to their bag, hanging from their car rearview, etc.) as a means of protection.

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for good fortune (yellow one) and “soundness of mind and body” (orange one) brought from Meiji Shrine – May 2010

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not my picture, but shows the ones I bought

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It’s pretty easy to find the area where omamori are sold – usually just inside the main entrance. This one is Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, taken April 2015.

The bags are not meant to be opened or the “spiritual offshoots” may escape and the protective benefits may be lost.

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Inside this one is a bronze monkey (my zodiac sign). Even though I’ve never seen it myself, that is what the man at Toshogu Shrine in Nikko told me when I bought it.

They are usually kept for about a year. When an omamori is old, it can be returned to the shrine to be burnt in ceremony and a new one can be purchased. Obviously, for people not in Japan, this isn’t really possible. As long as the item is treated with respect and not just carelessly tossed in the garbage, it’s okay. The omamori works by deflecting the misfortune away from you so if it’s beat up and worn, that just means it’s working. (I still have all the ones I’ve ever bought. Since they are souvenirs, I’m just gonna hold onto them.)

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These are 3 different types that I bought at my favourite shrine, Hasedera, in Kamakura – April 2015. The one on the right is made of clay and has a bell inside that makes a very natsukashi sound. The one on the left also has a bell and a mini replica of one of the thousands of Jizo found at that shrine inside.

My friends ~ keep in mind, I gave you yours with wishes for your good future in mind but as souvenirs. You can keep them without feeling like they will become ineffective. I will still continue to want good things for you. And if you DO want yours replaced, just let me know and I’ll get you another one next time I’m in Japan.

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This is a tree beside my workspace where I hand all the omamori I have collected in my travels.

There are a dizzying array of various types of omamori. There are specific ones for travel, study, business, health, romantic and family relationships, etc.  or just general good fortune. (Hey Ames, there is even one I’ve seen that is ‘Safety from Bears’. Haha. I’ll pick one up for you next time.)

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“for happy marriage”, along with an ema (prayer board) bought at the Big Buddha in Hong Kong – May 2013

This is a GREAT article with tons more info.

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3 Responses to Omamori

  1. PurpleBrina says:

    thanks Kmah! i still got mines 🙂 so cool. thanks again

  2. Pingback: มาทำเครื่องรางที่เป็นของเราเพียงคนเดียวกันเถอะ

  3. Japanese omamori is wonderful. Is possible to buy on http://www.omamori.com … I love Japan

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