A good luck charm, or amulet, is an item that is believed to bring good luck. Whether you want to believe in it or not, we could all use a bit of extra luck from time to time, right? In Japan, you can find lucky charms, also known as (engimono), in various shapes and sizes. Each one of them serves their own special purpose. These lucky charms have long been thought to attract luck and happiness, wealth, good fortune, and more. It’s really no wonder you’ll almost always find a lot of lucky charm shops when you visit a Japanese shrine.
If you’re in the market for a little extra luck, here’s our top five picks of Japanese Charms to get the job done!
1. Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat
Maneki Neko, “The Beckoning Cat”
This beckoning cat is absolutely iconic, and can usually be seen at the entrance of shops or at the cashier. It’s a lucky charm used by the shop’s owner to bring prosperity and wealth - while also getting rid of evil spirits in order to ensure the safety of the business.The maneki neko can be seen with either its left or right paw raised. The right paw invites money and business, while the left paw invites passersby and other potential customers .
2. Omamori, lucky amulets
Omamori a traditional lucky charm
The Omamori is an amulet with covers made of Japanese style silk. They enclose prayers written on paper or wood, kept nice and safe inside. They are believed to bring good luck and each omamori has its own unique purposes (ex: protection, wealth, job, love, and many more). You can find omamori being sold at most popular shrines across Japan. Be careful, though! It’s considered bad luck to open the cover and peek inside. You can attach your omamori to your phone, purse, wallet, home wall, pocket, keys, or anything else you need close by.
3. Koinobori, carp streamers
Koinobori Flying High!
A Koinobori is a carp-shaped windsock, traditionally flown in Japan to celebrate Children's Day, which takes place every May 5th. If you are ever in Japan at the end of April, you can see these beautiful, scaley streamers around the neighborhood! In traditional Japanese art, carp - or koi (鯉) in Japanese, represent strength and determination. Koionobori are a symbol of good luck and symbolize a family’s best wishes for their children to have a successful future, growing up healthy and strong.
4. Senbazuru, 1,000 paper cranes
An Amulet for Health and Well Being
You may have seen a scene in a manga or anime where a character is sick and given a piece of crane shaped origami. It’s believed that completing a chai of 1,000 origami cranes will grant the owner a wish! Also known as Senbazuru in Japanese - they have become a symbol of healing and hope.
Of course, folding 1,000 paper cranes is no easy task. For this reason, it is common for groups of people to join together to make a senbazuru. No wonder now, there are many health campaigns and charities that involve making senbazuru to spread awareness and hope for those that need it the most.
Student exam amulet
No, we are not making this up! Japanese KitKats are famous for their variety of unique flavors, sure, but in Japan, they are also often bought as good-luck gifts. The brand name echoes the Japanese phrase "Kitto Katsu", roughly translating as "Surely win”. KitKats have become a popular amulet among students, carrying them around (and of course - snacking on them) during their school exams. Nestle even produces special KitKats just for students - with encouraging messages, like “Do your best!”, “Believe in yourself!” and “It’ll be fine!” along with a blank space on the back for writing personalized words of encouragement! It’s really no surprise that KitKats are one of our best sellers at JapanHaul!
Do you carry any good luck charms with you? Let us know in the comments below, or tag us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to show us how you rock your amulet!