Omikuji can tell people about their futures, regarding everything from business, health, and love to study, travel, and work. To receive a Omikuji or paper fortune from a temple or shrine, a kind of ‘offering’ needs to be made. Nowadays, this just means some form of payment, typically ranging from five to 200 yen.
To get this kind of fortune, you usually use a box (which can be square or cylindrical in shape) containing thin, numbered sticks called “Mikuji-bo” inside it. You shake this box, pick whichever stick comes out, and retrieve your Omikuji from a drawer with the corresponding number. The fortunes will often be rolled up like a scroll or folded.
When reading your Omikuji, your fortune can be positive, calling for a blessing or luck “kichi". These range from a great blessing “dai-kichi,” middle blessing “chū-kichi,” small blessing “shō-kichi" and half-blessing “han-kichi” to a future blessing “sue-kichi," future small blessing “sue-shō-kichi.” On the other hand, your fortune could tell of a curse “kyō," future curse “sue-kyō,” half-curse “han-kyō,” small curse “shō-kyō,” and finally a great curse “dai-kyō.”
Should you happen to receive a bad fortune or curse, you certainly don’t want to hold onto it. In fact, your bad fortune will give you a chance to improve your fortune by designating a place for you to put it. Some popular options include folding up the fortune, tying it to a tree or pole, and leaving it on the grounds of the temple or shrine. This should help you leave the bad luck behind.
While specific traditions vary between different temples and shrines, generally speaking, if you get a good fortune, be sure to carry it with you or bring it home to get the luck to stay with you.
Omikuji are available in temples and shrines across Japan. Some locations that include Omikuji written in English include Senso-ji temple in Tokyo and Nishiki Tenmangu shrine in Kyoto. Omikuji can also be found in vending machines in cities across the country.