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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Offerings and Talismans
Omikuji
Also called mikuji, a form of divination by lots used to make decisions or determine the fortune of an undertaking. The term kuji suggests two meanings, one being the use of random chance to render an impartial verdict, and the second involving a querying of the divine will in cases where a decision of the kami is thought required. It is this latter sense that the term mikuji refers to, a type of divination carried out when knowledge of the divine will is felt necessary in order to reach a judgment on a pending question, a determination of auspiciousness or inauspiciousness, good or evil, or the choice of persons to succeed to the headship of a business or household. Many methods of kuji are used, but one used in ancient times involved writing possible outcomes or names on twisted pieces of paper (hineribumi), praying over these, and then choosing one. This method is used even today in provincial festivals when selecting the person to be in charge (tōnin) or other religious roles for the coming year; in such cases, names of candidates are written on pieces of paper and the choice determined by waving a ritual wand (gohei) over them; the name on the paper that adheres to the gohei is thought to have been selected by the divine will. One method used for divining personal fortunes involves drawing straws or thin sticks from a cylinder and then receiving a printed fortune or poem corresponding to a cypher printed on the stick. This is the type of mikuji found most commonly today at shrines and elsewhere.

-Suzuki Kentarō
Omikuji box

Shinto Museum of Kokugakuin University

Omikuji from Izumo Taisha

Shimane Prefecture, 2005

©Tsujimura Shinobu

English omikuji from Kibitsu Jinja

Okayama Prefecture, 2005

©Tsujimura Shinobu

Footage of worshipers drawing omikuji. Money is placed in the offering box and then the lot is drawn. Omikuji with a positive content are taken back home by worshipers, whereas omikuji that predict a negative outcome are often attached to trees or ropes found on the shrine grounds.

Tokyo, 2007

©Ōsawa Kōji

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