From my “Autumn in Japan” series.
I’ve wanted to visit Asia since I was a teenager, and in October of 2010, my wish finally came true. I spent about 10 days in Japan.
My fascination with Asian culture and traditions finally became a reality to me, and the photographer in me went into overdrive. In 10 days, I captured 2,500+ pictures. I hope you enjoy my first (but hopefully not my last) perspective of this beautiful & amazing country.
These white strips of paper are called “Omikuji.” Omikuji (御御籤, 御神籤, or おみくじ) are random fortunes written on strips of paper at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan. Literally “sacred lot”, these are usually received by making a small offering (generally a five-yen coin as it is considered good luck) and randomly choosing one from a box, hoping for the resulting fortune to be good. (Nowadays, these are sometimes coin-slot machines.)
The omikuji is scrolled up or folded, and unrolling the piece of paper reveals the fortune written on it. It includes a general blessing. It then lists fortunes regarding specific aspects of one’s life, which may include any number of other possible combinations. 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 matsu) and the verb ‘to wait’ (待つ matsu), 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. Though nowadays this custom seems more of a children’s amusement, omikuji are available at most shrines, and remain one of the traditional activities related to shrine-going, if lesser. Captured at the Shitaya Shrine in Ueno, Tokyo, Japan in October 2010, with a Nikon D90.
Grunge frame added from thecoffeeshopblog.com.
Featured in “The Power of Simplicity” Group, June 2011.
Featured in the “Dark Artists dark Art” Group, June 2011.
© jdub photography 2010