Omikuji are random fortunes written on strips of paper at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan. Literally "sacred lottery" or "written oracle", these are usually received by making a small offering and randomly choosing one from a box, hoping for the resulting fortune to be good.
The omikuji is scrolled up or folded, and unrolling the piece of paper reveals the fortune written on it. It includes a general blessing which can be any one of the following:
It then lists fortunes regarding specific aspects of one's life, which may include any number of the following among other possible combinations:
方角 - auspicious/inauspicious directions 願事 – one's wish or desire 待人 – a person being waited for 失せ物 – lost article(s) 旅立ち – travel 商い – business dealings 學問 – studies or learning 相場 – market speculation 爭事 – disputes 戀愛 – romantic relationships 転居 – moving or changing residence 出産 – childbirth or pregnancy 病気 – illness 縁談 – marriage proposal or engagement
The omikuji predicts the person's chances of his or her hopes coming true, of finding a good match, or generally matters of health, fortune, life, etc. When the prediction is bad, it is a custom to fold up the strip of paper and attach it to a pine tree or a wall of metal wires alongside other bad fortunes in the temple or shrine grounds. A purported reason for this custom is a pun on the word for pine tree (松) and the verb 'to wait' (待つ), the idea being that the bad luck will wait by the tree rather than attach itself to the bearer. In the event of the fortune being good, the bearer has the option of tying it for the fortune to have a greater effect or can keep it for luck.