What is the meaning of Japanese Omikuji?

The new year Omikuji

Hello! I’m Mishi. I want to talk about Omikuji(御神籤) today. Do you know what it is? When you visit a shrine or a temple, you will see the people draw something. This something is called Omikuji. Haven’t you seen it? This is a very popular thing to do at a shrine or a temple. You can test your New Year’s luck right after you pray! If you don’t know what it is, then, let’s check it out! (☆ゝз・)




What is Omikuji(御神籤)?


Hieizan Enryakuji Toudou

Hieizan Enryakuji Toudou

Omikuji is also called Mikuji. This is a fun event that you can try at a shrine or a temple(some shrines or temples don’t have it). Omikuji is to see your fortune and help you to choose the right decisions for your life. This is usually for the New Year, it is used to see how your New Year will go, but you can also do it anytime you visit a shrine or a temple.

You don’t have to take it seriously. Whatever Omikuji says is just advice for you. Even though you get a bad luck one, you don’t have to be down! Like I said that this is a fun event so I think you should have a fun to do Omikuji. Top of that, if you reminded of what Omikuji says, you can pay attention to your future and you might be able to choose a right decision. That is why I said that Omikuji is a fun event. You should enjoy drawing Omikuji.


History of Omikuji


In ancient Japan, they sometimes used a tool that is called Kuji(籤). When they wanted to hear what a god wants to say, they used it. This tool was used when they tried to decide a successor, a political matter, and so on. It is said that Kuji is the origin of Omikuji.

When it was the Heian period(794 – 1185), it is said that the monk named, Ryougen(良源) who used to be in Hienzan, Enryaku Ji(比叡山延暦寺) made a model of a present Omikuji style.

After a while, in early Kamakura period(1185 – 1333), they finally started to be able to draw Omikuji for an individual but it’s said that they prepared Omikuji by themselves.

Since that, Omikuji became a Japanese tradition and it still has been carried.


When do we have to draw Omikuji?


You have to pray for gods or Buddha at first and Omikuji is later. You have to say hello and thank gods or Buddha at first because you visit their house. Are you going to enter your friend’s house without saying hello? You won’t do that, right? It is the same thing. Let’s show a respect to gods or Buddha first! (´^ω^`)


How much is to draw Omikuji?


The price range is various but averagely, it is 100 Yen(1 dollar). Some local shrines or temples have the prices are 30 Yen(30 cents) or 50 Yen(50 cents). Sometimes, Omikuji is a set with a statue. Those Omikuji are higher than 100 Yen(1 dollar). They are like about 500 Yen(5 dollars).

The most expensive Omikuji that I know is 4000 Yen(40 dollars). This is a set price for touring extra temples to get the item and Omikuji.

The cheapest Omikuji is for free. Those places have a Mikuji Tsutsu(御籤筒) which is a Omikuji container for you to draw and the board will tell you which fortune you pick.


How do you draw Omikuji?


mikuji Tsutsu

Mikuji Tsutsu/Omikuji container

This is very simple because all you have to do is to draw it! However, let me write a polite way.

  1. Put Mikuji Tsutsu(Omikuji container) upside down on your hand as you cover the hole
  2. While you shake the container up and down, ask the god what you want to know as you pray in your head
  3. You will have a stick out of a hole and tell or show the worker a number
  4. Put the stick back in a Mikuji Tsutsu
  5. You will receive a thin paper that is called Mikuji Sen(みくじ箋). This will tell you the fortune and advice

But you should shake the container of Omikuji at first! That is because the person who draws Omikuji before you has to put the stick which has a number written back in the Omikuji container so you might get the same number of the previous person’s. This sucks if your previous person draws a bad one!


Omikuji’s translation


Omikuji Best Luck

Best luck Omikuji

Some shrines or temples have a translation in English. But I think those places are only the popular shrines or temples for the tourist so in case you want to know what is the meaning of what you draw, I will show you the list below. (This is an example and sometimes, you might see the difference.)

大吉(Dai Kichi)Best luck
吉(Kichi)Good luck
半吉(Han Kichi)Half luck
小吉(Shou Kichi)Fair luck
末吉(Sue Kichi)Late good luck
末小吉(Sue Shou Kichi)Late fair luck
凶(Kyou)No luck

(There are many ranks of Omikuji and some shrines or temples have the different ways.)

(The omikuji’s translation is various.)


If you draw the worst Omikuji…..


Omikuji bad luck

You might want to scream bad words if you draw the worst Omikuji but don’t worry! That is not the point of Omikuji. All of Omikuji have the explanations of an education, a love, a relationship, and more. Those advice are something to be concerned about. The worst Omikuji doesn’t say that all of your luck will be bad or you need to hibernate for that year. Omikuji will give you advice that you should pay attention to, to not to fail later. Even though you get the worst Omikuji, you will see much good advices so keep those words in your mind without getting down!

Some people draw Omikuji again when they get the worst Omikuji. But this way is not recommended. If you want to draw it again, I think you should change a day to draw it. There is no rule for drawing Omikuji but just a manner of gods or Buddha. There is no saying of how many times you can draw Omikuji so what I am saying doesn’t make sense, though….. It is up to you to decide!

(Some shrines or temples don’t have those luck on the Omikuji paper. They are only written the old Japanese poems for you to sense what that means. So, really, you shouldn’t be negative for the worst Omikuji.)


After you draw Omikuji


Mikuji Dokoro

This is the right place to tie Omikuji

What do you want to do with Omikuji? Do you want to keep it to you or the other way? I think there are two ways after you draw Omikuji.

  1. Bring it back to your home
  2. Tie it to the tree or the place to tie for Omikuji(this place is called Omikuji Musubi Dokoro)

Both of them are right ways. Actually, there is no rule for it. If you want to bring it back to your home, you can. Especially, the foreigner tourists want to bring it back because it is a nice memory for visiting Japan. I would like to bring Omikuji back to my house too. Some people bring the best luck Omikuji back but few people bring the worst luck Omikuji back too. They keep it to themselves and review it so they can keep the words in their mind.

On the other hand, there are many people who tie it to the tree or tie it to the place for Omikuji.

But nowadays, Japanese people noticed that to tie Omikuji to a tree can hurt a tree. So, you will see the place where you are supposed to tie to in a shrine or temple. I recommend you to tie it to the place where it is supposed to be.




The reason why Japanese people tie Omikuji to a tree


Tie Omikuji to the tree

This habit has started from Edo period(1603 – 1868). This habit is something to do with the matchmaking. A matchmaking is called En Musubi(縁結び). En is a luck and Musubi(Musubu) means to tie in English so this habit is to tie to gods or Buddha.

By the way, do you know the trees are called Matsu(松) and Sugi(杉)? Matsu is a pine tree and Sugi is a Japanese cedar in English. Some say that

Tie your good luck Omikuji to Matsu and

Tie your bad luck Omikuji to Sugi.

Matsu also means to wait and Sugi also means pass. So, the good luck can wait and the bad luck can pass.

Isn’t it interesting?? (・∀・)


How to tie your worst luck Omikuji


I know a technique to tie when you get the worst luck Omikuji. This way can boost your luck up but it is harder. Do you want to know it? This might be a challenge for you to tie but let me tell you!

When you tie your worst luck Omikuji, use your hand that is not your dominant hand. If you’re right-handed, you use the left hand. And you can only use that hand to tie!

If you make it, this means that you overcame a hardship. Try this way if you get the worst luck Omikuji! (O*’v`*)


Expiration date of Omikuji


Many people wonder how long the effect of Omikuji would last. The answer is no expiration date for it. This means that it is up to you. Most Japanese people draw Omikuji in the New Year. So, there are many people who draw Omikuji once a year. But that doesn’t matter. You can decide your rule to draw Omikuji.

We don’t know when our wishes will come true so you should do this way.

Anyway, Omikuji is an advice from gods or Buddha so if you keep the advice in your mind and you are convinced, that is all that matters.


How to dispose of your Omikuji


If you tie a Omikuji, the shrines or temples will burn it for you as they pray and purify it. But when you bring your Omikuji back to home, how can you dispose of it? I will tell you how to do it!

The way to dispose of Omikuji is easy. All you need is a bag and salt. The salt can make an effect of purifying. So, what you have to do is sprinkle the salt over your Omikuji and wrap it with a bag. Now, you can throw it away if you want to!


Kawaii Omikuji


There are many Kawaii(cute) Omikuji in Japan. Let me introduce some cute Omikuji.


Kawagoe Hikawa shrine(川越氷川神社)

Hikawa Shrine OmikujiThis is a red snapper Omikuji. You can test your fortune of love!

Location: Saitama prefecture, Kawagoe city, Miyashita Chou 2-11-3

Official Website: http://www.kawagoehikawa.jp/


Nishinomiya Shrine(西宮神社)

Nishinomiya shrine OmikujiThis is a red snapper Omikuji. This place displays a frozen tuna for a big catch in the New Year!

Location : Hyougo prefecture, Nishinomiya city, Shake chou, 1-17

Official Website : http://nishinomiya-ebisu.com/index.html


Ujigami shrine(宇治上神社)

Ujigami Shrine OmikujiThis is a rabbit Omikuji. Isn’t it Kawaii?

Location: Kyoto prefecture, Uji city, Ujiyamada 59

Taima temple(當麻寺)

Taima temple OmikujiLook at this! It is an umbrella Omikuji!

Location: Nara prefecture, Katsuragi city, Taima 1263

Official Website: http://www.taimadera.org/

Kasuga shrine(春日大社)

Kasuga Shrine OmikujiIt is a deer Omikuji. This Shrine is a world heritage site!

Location: Nara prefecture, Nara city, Kasugano Chou 160

Official Website: http://www.kasugataisha.or.jp/about/index_en.html

Katsuou temple(勝尾寺)

Katsuou temple OmikujiThis is a Daruma Omikuji! Many Daruma Omikuji are everywhere in this temple.

Location: Osaka prefecture, Minoo city, Aomadani 2914-1

Official Website: http://www.katsuo-ji-temple.or.jp/katuouji_e/index.html

Kamigamo shrine(上賀茂神社)

Kamigamo shrine OmikujiThis is a horse Omamori. This shrine is a world heritage site!

Location: Kyoto prefecture, Kyoto city, Kita ku, Kamigamo honzan 339

Official Website: http://www.kamigamojinja.jp/english/index.html

Awata shrine(粟田神社)

Awata shtine OmikujiThis is a bird Omikuji. If you like birds, you should go!

Location: Kyoto prefecture, Kyoto city, Higashiyama Ku, Awataguchi Kaji Chou 1

Official Website: http://awatajinja.jp/

Takaosan Yakuou Temple(高尾山薬王院)

Takaosan Yakuou Temple OmikujiThis is a Sensu Omikuji! What a nice Omikuji!

Location : Tokyo prefecture, Hachiouji city, Takao chou, 2177

Official Website : http://www.takaosan.or.jp/english/




Now, what do you think about Omikuji? Could you understand what it is? The point of Omikuji is whatever you get, just keep the advice in your mind so you might be able to get through a problem. It is just a fun event that you want to try to see your luck! If you want to know about a shrine and a temple, I gave you the pages to read below.




I hope you will get the best luck!

see you again! (*^-‘)/~☆Bye-Bye♪





  1. What a lovely website! Very interesting. it shows you care.

    • Thank you for your interest in our website. I care very much for Japan, Japanese Culture, and the Japanese people. I love Japan! I will be updating more in the next couple of weeks.

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