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Omamori: The Japanese Good Luck Charm

Omamori: The Japanese Good Luck Charm

Apr 04, 2023 Tags 

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like you need a luck boost to increase your chances of success? It could also be because you want to protect yourself from bad energy or even dangerous situations. Well, when people worry about all these in Japan, they get an Omamori: a good luck charm used for protection

If you have been to Japanese shrines then you’ll be sure to see an array of brightly colored embroidered amulets. It doesn’t matter whether you’re superstitious or not, these charms are widely used in Japan for a lot of reasons. In this article, we will cover the different types of Omamori and what they mean. 


What Is An Omamori Charm?


Omamori is a traditional Japanese good luck charm, commonly sold at shrines and temples. The word "Omamori" means "to protect" or "to guide" in Japanese, and these charms are believed to offer various types of protection to the person who carries them.

Japanese culture is full of symbolism and ritual, and the use of Omamori is definitely one of those. The small, colorful amulets are said to bring good luck and protection to the person who carries them. Omamori can be found all over Japan, from temples and shrines to souvenir shops and even vending machines.


What Is Inside An Omamori?


Omamori usually contains a small piece of paper with prayers written on it and then has been blessed by a Shinto priest or Buddhist monk before being sealed inside the pouch. The paper can either contain a prayer, spell, or sacred text, depending on the type of Omamori. It is believed that the power of the deity or spirit resides within the paper or o-fuda, and carrying it with you can provide various types of protection and good luck.

Even though this is not common, some Omamori may also contain items such as herbs, crystals, or other objects that are believed to have spiritual or protective properties. The specific contents of an Omamori can vary depending on the shrine or temple that produces it, as well as the type of protection or luck that it is intended to provide.


The History of Japanese Good Luck Charms - Omamori


Holding an omamori at a shrine


Omamori has a long history dating back to the Nara period (645-784 A.D) where it was written in Japanese history books. The documents made mentions of talismans being used for protection and these could possibly be Omamori. In the Heian period (784-1185 A.D.), a popular book known as the tale of Genji mentions Omamori used to cure illnesses. 

By the Tokugawa period (1615-1867 A.D.) charms were bought in shrines and carried openly. People would carry small amulets around their neck or in their pockets. These amulets contained the name of a god or goddess and were believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. Over time, the practice of carrying amulets evolved into the tradition of Omamori. 

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Different Types of Omamori 


There are many different types of Omamori available, each with its own specific purpose. Some common types of Omamori include:


Kai-un (Good luck)


When a lot of bad things have been happening to you without any explanation, this is Omamori to buy. It will bring luck and good fortune to you. 


Kotsu Anzen (Traffic Safety)


This type of Omamori is meant to protect the owner while driving or traveling. If you feel anxious about the safety of public transport, this Omamori will come in handy. It is commonly found at shrines and temples near highways and train stations. When car owners buy it, they attach it to their rearview mirror. 


Kotsuanzen Omamori with Manekineko


Katsumori (Success and Victory)


If you have applied for a position or you are working on a project where failure is a possibility then this charm will be sure to bring you luck. 



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Shobai Hanjo (Business Prosperity)


This Omamori is designed to bring success and prosperity to the business. It is also known as the money charm since businesses can affect people’s finances. It is commonly found at business-related shrines and temples.


En-musubi (Love and Relationships)


Who needs a love potion when there's an Omamori for love? En-musubi is meant to bring good fortune to romantic relationships. It can help people find love or protect their relationship. It is often given as a gift to couples or single people.


Gakugyo Joju (Academic Achievement)


This Omamori is meant to help students achieve academic success. Students carry it when it’s time for exams, of course, it means nothing if they do not study. It is commonly found at shrines and temples near schools and universities.


Blue Gakugyo Joju Omamori for academic achievement


Yakuyoke (Protection from Evil)


Evil doesn’t just mean demons, certain disasters could be evil. That is why this Omamori is meant to protect the owner from evil spirits and misfortune.


Kanai Anzen (Home Safety)


If you are a family person, then this Omamori will protect your home and family from harm. It literally means keep my family safe.


Katsu-jin (Safety and Protection)


This Omamori is meant to provide overall protection to the owner.

Another weird charm in Japan you should read about is the Japanese Hina Doll.


In addition to these specific types of Omamori, there are also many types of Omamori that are meant to bring good luck and protection to the owner in all areas of life. I mean, there’s an Omamori for fishing safety and specific illnesses. Omamori is often decorated with traditional Japanese motifs such as cherry blossoms, dragons, and the torii gate.


Where Do People Carry Omamori?


Omamori attached to a bag


Omamori is typically carried in a purse or wallet, worn around the neck, or attached to a backpack or keychain. People attach them to their phones these days. When you purchase an Omamori, it is important to handle it with respect and care, as it is believed to contain the power of the god or goddess it represents.

To activate the power of the Omamori, you should first take it to a shrine or temple to be blessed. You can also perform your own blessing by holding the Omamori in your hands and saying a prayer or wish.


What to Do When You No Longer Need It?


Omamori for sale


In Japan, Omamori is highly respected so you cannot just throw it away when you no longer need it. Instead, try doing these:

  • Return it to a shrine or temple: Most shrines and temples in Japan have a designated place for people to return their old Omamori. The Omamori will be collected and burned in a special ceremony to release the spirits and prayers contained within


  • Do home disposal by placing the Omamori on white Japanese rice paper and sprinkling salt on both sides of it. Next, you can cover the paper and give gratitude for the luck it has given you before disposing of it.

While the specific effects of Omamori may be up for debate, there is no denying the cultural significance and popularity of these good luck charms in Japan. Whether you believe in their power or not, carrying an Omamori can be a meaningful and unique way to connect with Japanese culture and tradition.

You can learn and experience Japanese culture from your home by ordering a ZenPop snack, ramen, or stationery pack.



This article was originally written by our freelance writer Umm-Kulthum Abdulkareem and edited by us.