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Where Can You Find Omamori (Ofudas) And Interpreting Them

Japanese Prayers For Protection

Ofudas, commonly known as Omamori are Japanese talismans that people receive when visiting temples and shrines. And here you’ll find out what it is and where you can find the Omamori. 

Omamori, traditional Japanese amulets believed to bring good luck and protection, have been cherished by people for centuries. These beautifully crafted charms can be found in various locations throughout Japan.

Whether you’re a traveler seeking a unique souvenir or someone interested in Japanese culture, this article will guide you on where to find omamori and explore their significance.

There are different types of Ofudas you get from different temples, varying in design and contents.

Where To Find Omamori And Ofuda?

Shinto Shrines

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Shinto shrines are one of the primary places to find omamori. These sacred sites are scattered across Japan and are dedicated to various Shinto deities. Visitors can purchase omamori from small kiosks or shops within the shrine grounds.

Each shrine often offers unique omamori associated with specific blessings such as success in exams, safe travels, or good health.

Buddhist Temples

Buddhist temples are another common place to find omamori. While shrines are associated with Shintoism, temples are deeply rooted in Buddhism.

Many temples have their own specialized omamori, such as those for warding off evil spirits, finding love, or attracting wealth. Temple gift shops or stalls usually sell these charms to visitors as a way to support the temple’s upkeep and activities.

Traditional Markets

Exploring traditional markets, particularly in tourist hotspots like Tokyo’s Asakusa or Kyoto’s Nishiki Market, can lead you to numerous shops specializing in Japanese handicrafts and cultural items.

These markets often feature stores that sell omamori, allowing you to browse a wide variety of designs and purposes. Remember to check the authenticity and quality of the omamori before making a purchase.

Omamori Specialty Stores

For a more comprehensive selection of omamori, dedicated specialty stores are worth seeking out. These shops offer an extensive range of amulets, catering to different needs and desires.

You can find them in major cities, especially in popular areas such as Tokyo’s Harajuku district or Kyoto’s Gion neighborhood. These stores often have knowledgeable staff who can explain the significance and usage of each amulet.

What is an Ofuda or Omamori? 

An Ofuda is a Japanese talisman that comes in sheets of paper. Believers generally stick them on walls of their homes to provide safety for the entire family by invoking godly spirits. 

Sometimes, collectors are so busy gathering the talismans as if they’re collecting stamps that they overlook what’s written on the parchment. 

What is an “Ofuda”?

It’s a simple sign that’s a proof of worship at that particular shrine. The name of the shrine is written in Japanese paper that is of size B6 and there are vermillion marks on it. 

What is the difference between ofuda and omamori?

Ofuda and omamori are both traditional Japanese religious items, but they serve different purposes and have distinct characteristics:

Ofuda

  • Meaning and Purpose: Ofuda, also known as “sacred paper,” are inscribed talismanic sheets typically issued by Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples. They are considered the physical embodiment of a deity or a spiritual entity.
  • Placement: Ofuda are usually meant to be displayed or enshrined in homes, businesses, or vehicles. They are often placed in a small wooden or plastic frame and positioned in a respectful location.
  • Blessings and Protection: Ofuda are believed to bring blessings, ward off evil spirits, and provide spiritual protection to the area where they are placed. They are considered a connection between the worshippers and the divine.
  • Specific Deities: Ofuda are often associated with specific Shinto deities or Buddhist figures, depending on the issuing shrine or temple. For example, an ofuda may be dedicated to a particular god or goddess of luck, prosperity, or health.

Omamori:

  • Meaning and Purpose: Omamori, translated as “protective charm” or “amulet,” are small fabric pouches containing prayers and blessings. They are typically created and sold by Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples.
  • Portability: Omamori are designed to be carried on one’s person, such as in a purse, wallet, or hung on a bag or keychain. Their compact size allows individuals to keep them close at all times.
  • Personalized Protection: Omamori are personalized to address specific needs or desires. They can provide various forms of protection, such as against accidents, illness, bad luck, or academic success. Each omamori has a specific purpose associated with the deity or Buddhist figure it represents.
  • Limited Duration: Omamori have an expiration date, usually one year from their purchase. It is customary to return the old omamori to the shrine or temple for proper disposal before obtaining a new one. This act symbolizes the renewal of blessings and protection.
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In summary, ofuda are sacred inscribed talismanic sheets meant to be displayed or enshrined, while omamori are portable fabric pouches containing personalized prayers and blessings that are carried for protection. 

Ofuda are associated with specific deities and provide spiritual protection to a specific area, whereas omamori address individual needs and desires for a limited duration.

What are the six main types of omamori?

The six main types of omamori commonly found in Japan are:

  • Kotsu-Anzen (交通安全): Kotsu-Anzen omamori are for traffic safety and protection while traveling. They are often displayed in vehicles or carried by individuals who wish for a safe journey.
  • Shoubai-Hanjou (商売繁盛): Shoubai-Hanjou omamori are associated with business prosperity and success. They are popular among business owners, entrepreneurs, and those seeking financial stability.
  • Gakugyou-Jouju (学業成就): Gakugyou-Jouju omamori are aimed at academic success and achievement. They are often purchased by students or their families to wish for good grades and educational accomplishments.
  • Yaku-Yoke (厄除け): Yaku-Yoke omamori are intended to ward off misfortune, evil spirits, and bad luck. They provide general protection and are believed to bring blessings and prevent negative influences.
  • En-Musubi (縁結び): En-Musubi omamori are associated with love, relationships, and marriage. They are often sought after by individuals looking for romantic connections, harmonious partnerships, or happy marriages.
  • Byouki-Yaku (病気厄): Byouki-Yaku omamori focus on health and well-being. They are purchased by individuals seeking protection against illness, recovery from ailments, or general good health.

These are the six main categories of omamori, but it’s important to note that there can be additional specialized omamori for specific purposes or blessings based on the practices of individual shrines or temples. 

The selection of omamori is diverse and can cater to a wide range of personal needs and desires.

What is the History of Ofudas or Omamori?

The history isn’t very clear. It’s said to have originated after the Edo period originally as a copy of the sutra during pilgrimages such as Shikou 88. It’s also considered a payment sign. 

The source dated way back to the Kamakura period

As more and more general folk started visiting shrines, Ofudas or Omamori became some sort of proof that they had visited the shrine. During the Meiji period, Ofudas became commonplace in shrines. 

What is written in the Red Seal or Ofudas?

The contents written on Ofudas depend on the temple, shrine or sect it is from. Here is an example. 

Ex: Bronze Sign of the Temple

Japanese Prayers For Protection

What does this Bronze Sign Say?

1. Hohai – It means I respectfully worship.

2 and 3. Gosyuin – Where you write a sutra of your own and place it in the temple. In this particular image, it’s a lotus sutra named nenpikannonriki. 

4. Sango – An honorary prefix before the name of a mountain. The mountain’s name is Yamana.

5. A sign of a motif representing a temple, in this case, this is the Arashiyama Rakan temple in Kyoto. It’s a statue of Buddha made of stone in the Hogonin temple. 

6. Gohoin – A type of seal used in a Buddhist temple.

7. Sanboin – It’s the name of the temple

In Nichiren Buddhism, which has the lotus symbol as its Lotus Sutra, the myoho is a substitute for gohoin. Depending on the temple, there may be only the red stamp without anything written on top of it. 

Arukuto of the Shrine 

The shrine’s Red Seal is relatively simple. The name of the Shinto shrine and the seal are in the center. 

The-red-seal-Arashiyama-Rakan-temple

What does this Red Seal or Omamori say?

1 – Name of the Festival

2 – Name of the Shrine

3 – Date of worship

4 – The seal of the Shrine

5, 6 – Marks and motifs that are related to the Shrine

How are Red Seals Different from Bills?

Speaking of items awarded at shrines, there is an item called the “bill.”

On one hand, a person gets a certificate called the “Akujin” that is collected at the end of the temple visit. But the interest in collecting these is far less compared to the Red Seal.

When the name of a Honjyu is handwritten by a priest or a monk and if you get the Red Seal, it’s considered highly auspicious and this should be carefully kept for years on end. 

What do I need to do when Visiting the Temple or Shrine In Japan?

Usually, it is the same as visiting temples and shrines. 

Make sure you make a note of the Shrine manners and respect them genuinely. 

  1. Visit when you’re in good conditions only – both physically and mentally
  2. Before you pass through the side gate of the temple, bow at the main gate
  3. Do not pollute the surroundings in any way and always maintain the peacefulness of the temple from your side
  4. Watch out for the photography rules and follow them
  5. If necessary, remove your shoes
  6. Use the purification fountain to wash your hands and mouth before you enter. Make sure you use the scoop provided and not dip your hands directly into the fountain.
  7. After purifying yourself, head to the offering hall to pray
  8. Donate how much you can at the offering box
  9. Make your prayers quietly
  10. Once you’re done. Bow and leave

How can I get the Red Seal and how do I Store it? 

There are two ways one can get this seal. Either the worshipper brings their own book or it is given by the priests on a piece of paper. 

There are also shops that sell the original and you can get the seal book with various designs in general stationery shops. 

After you get a seal, it’s best to store it in a bookshelf or if you want to be careful while carrying it, you can use a Shinto rack. 

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japanese-talisman-paper

Will the Red Seal be Awarded without Visiting a Shrine?

The Red Seal is basically collected after a pilgrim takes an arduous journey to the shrine and for his hard work, he is rewarded with a seal. 

In some shrines, you can still get a seal without having to visit the shrine. This is only in exceptional cases when the person who wants a seal has a health problem. 

There should be only one objective when going to shrines, that is to worship. So please try not to make it about collecting seals. 

Kyoto Shrines and getting Omamori or Ofudas

The image that the people around the world associate most with Kyoto is its cherry blossoms during the Spring and yellow leaves during Autumn, but Kyoto is still beautiful during the other seasons.

Visit-shinto-temple-in-summer

There is a huge temperature difference throughout the year in Kyoto. Autumn leaves turn red and the red leaves become green in the Spring – which is beautiful to see.

I changed my earlier booking because summer is beautiful in Kyoto with the changing green shades of the leaves. It’s also a good time to visit due to fewer tourists and the cost of hotels being cheaper during the offseason. 

In recent years, temples have started special worship by lighting up gardens. It’s a perfect opportunity to get a Red Seal while enjoying the history and the beauty of these shrines.

Kifune Shrine – The Shrine in Kibune

The headquarters of “Kifune Shrine” has 500 smaller branch shrines nationwide. 

The main Kifune shrine located in Kyoto is the starting point of the Kamogawa river. The Ryujin (Dragon God) controls the rain and Takaoka hot springs. It is said that the rebuilding of the shrine happened in the 1300s. 

  • Location: Kyoto Prefecture Kyoto City Sakyo-ku, Kuramadorikibucho 180 
  • Telephone number: 075-741-2016 
  • Reception time (award of the red mark): 9: 00-17: 00 

*Extended time during the light-up period*

Kifune-Shrine-Kibune
The contrast between the lantern and the stone steps leading to the main shrine is fascinating. 
Shinto-gifts
 In the special red auction, the sign is shaped like a ripple which is named after the water god and the blue maple is on the lower left corner. 

Kifune-Shrine-gardens
The lit “fresh greens”  of the garden illuminates various parts of the shrine such as the approaching path in the above photo. It’s lit only for a limited time ( Taken May 26, 27, 2018, twilight ~ 20 o’clock)
japanese-good-luck-gifts
This shrine is regarded as the birthplace of ema. Only in this season, a blue maple ema appears.
Kyoto-city-restaurants
The water drawn by chefs of restaurants in Kyoto City is in the image above. 

Jokoin Temple, Kyoto

The temples of Tenryuji, famous for its rustic mountain gate, were made during the Arashiyama era. You can enter the Shishi garden only during special occasions in the Spring and Autumn seasons. 

  • Location: Kyoto Prefecture Kyoto Ward Saga Temple Temple 
  • Gakuen Baba Town 36 phone number: 075-861-0091 
  • Spring special occasion: March 17 – June 30 
  • Business hours: 9: 00 – 17: 00
Lion-megalith-Jokoin-temple-garden
A megalith in the center of the garden is shaped like a lion that is crooked and is called the “Lion rock”. While walking in the garden, I immediately feel the healing effect on my mind and heart. 
Lions-gadren-red-seal
I use a thick paper and printed on it is the text “Lion’s Garden”. 
Kaya-gates-Jokoin-temple
Kaya gates are where you can feel the simplicity of a Zen sect. The red seal can be stamped at the shop on your left after entering the gate. 

Jojakkoji Temple, Kyoto

“Ogurayama” is also mentioned in the Hyakunin Isshu (Hyakunin Isshu is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred Japanese waka by one hundred poets). This place was loved by aristocrats and is regarded as a sightseeing spot, perfect for day trips. 

Located in the center of Kyoto and can be accessed by a boat, it’s said that there was a mountain villa called the Shikudei which was the Fujiwara family home during the Heian period in the land of Nichiren Sho and Jojakkoji. 

  • Location: Kyoto Prefecture Kyoto City Saka Ogakurayama Kokura-cho 3 Sagaokurakuyama Ogura- machi
  • Telephone number: 075-861-0435
  • Watching time: 9: 00 – 17: 00 
Jojakkoji-Temple
Jojakkoji-special-official-mark-yellow-paper
The Special Official Mark is written on yellow paper. This is a motif of the turmeric paper which was used as an insect repellent to protect the important books of the temple. 
Jojakkoji-temple-garden-Kyoto-view
The garden spreads over the slopes of Ogurayama, and when you climb to the top of the observation platform, you can admire the beautiful view overlooking the city of Kyoto.
Sagano-Bamboo-groove
The bamboo grove of Sagano is a specialty and the blue maples are also splendid.

Rurikoin Temple

Gifu has a version of Buddhism called the Jodo Shinshu. The garden where the water is collected is called the garden of the lapis lazuli. It’s generally private, but you can visit for worship during the Spring and Autumn.

  • Location: Kyoto Prefecture Kyoto City Sakyo-ku, Kamikitano Higashiyama 55
  • Telephone number: 075-781-4001
  • Spring special occasion: 15th April to 15th June
  • Worship time: 10: 00 ~ 17: 00
  • Light-up date: 2018 May 26th and 27th, June 2nd, 3rd, 9th, and 10th
  • Light up time: 19: 00 ~ 20: 30  
  • *Lights up must be booked separately*
list-of-omomori-charms
↑ For the first time, the garden is lit up with LEDs. During the day it’s beautiful. 
ofudas
↑ The small “Yagase Momiji noodle” is within walking distance of the Rurikoin is lit up at the same time. This is a public road, so a reservation is unnecessary.

How To Get To The Temples Or Shrines In Japan

“Ancient Capital Kyoto’s Blue Maple & Giant Marking Tour”

You get a roundtrip ticket of the bullet train and a special auctioned award ticket as well. A one-day ticket is dedicated just to get the red mark. 

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You can visit the above shrines and also the other 10 shrines in Kyoto city (Shimogamo Shrine, Kawai Shrine, Jingoji temple, Tofukuji temple, Manshuin monk, Tojo, Kitano Tenmangu Shrine). Special aromas can be bought in these shrines. 

Yagase-Momiji-noodle-light-up-time

The Keihan Train and the  Eizan Train one day Ticket (Special Edition), Kyoto Subway · Arashi 1 Day Ticket.

Two special auctioned award tickets are also available, and you can receive a special auction of this tour at only two shrines from the total 10. Post the second one, you should pay the full price.

Also, there’s a limited opening period until mid-June, usually an unplanned Rurikoin lights up the maple of the garden, and as an option for this tour, you can join by reservation. Why not take advantage of this opportunity? 

How much does omamori cost?

The cost of omamori can vary depending on various factors, including the type of omamori, the shrine or temple selling them, and the location. Generally, the price of a standard omamori ranges from around 300 yen to 1,000 yen in Japan, which is approximately $3 to $10 USD. However, certain specialty or larger omamori may be priced higher.

Is it OK to gift omamori?

While omamori are primarily intended for personal use, it is generally acceptable to gift them to others. Gifting omamori can be a thoughtful gesture to share blessings, well-wishes, and protection with someone you care about. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  • Cultural Sensitivity

Omamori are deeply rooted in Japanese culture and hold spiritual significance. It’s important to respect and understand their cultural context when gifting them. Make sure the recipient has an appreciation for Japanese culture or an interest in spiritual practices.

  • Personal Connection

It’s often best to gift omamori to someone with whom you have a close relationship or a deep bond. Consider their beliefs, values, and preferences to ensure the omamori aligns with their needs or desires.

  • Choosing the Right Omamori

Each omamori is created for a specific purpose, such as protection, luck, or health. Select an omamori that is meaningful and relevant to the recipient’s life circumstances or goals. It’s also advisable to explain the purpose and significance of the omamori to the recipient to enhance their understanding and appreciation.

  • Expiration and Renewal

Omamori have an expiration date, typically one year from their purchase. Inform the recipient about this aspect, and encourage them to return the old omamori to a shrine or temple for proper disposal before obtaining a new one.

  • Personal Beliefs

Keep in mind that not everyone may hold the same spiritual beliefs or practices. Ensure that the recipient is open to receiving a spiritual or religious item and respects the cultural significance of omamori.

By considering these factors and respecting the cultural and personal context, gifting omamori can be a meaningful and appreciated gesture.

What is inside omamori?

Inside an omamori, you will typically find a small piece of paper or fabric that contains prayers, blessings, or sacred inscriptions. 

The content inside an omamori varies depending on the specific purpose and the deity or Buddhist figure it represents. Here are some common elements found inside omamori:

  • Prayer Text: The piece of paper or fabric inside the omamori is often inscribed with sacred prayers or invocations. These prayers are specific to the purpose of the omamori, such as protection, good luck, or academic success. The prayers are typically written in Japanese or classical Chinese script.
  • Sacred Symbols: The inscriptions may also include sacred symbols or characters representing the deity or spiritual entity associated with the omamori. These symbols can vary depending on the shrine or temple’s traditions and beliefs.
  • Ritual Elements: Some omamori may include additional ritual elements, such as fragments of wood, herbs, or small talismans. These elements are believed to enhance the amulet’s power or provide additional spiritual protection.

The prayers and blessings inside the omamori are often considered sacred and are believed to infuse the charm with the divine power and protection associated with the deity or figure it represents. 

When using or gifting an omamori, it is customary to avoid opening or tampering with the contents, as it may be seen as disrespectful or disruptive to its spiritual significance.

Can you make your own omamori?

Traditionally, omamori are made and blessed by Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples, as they involve sacred rituals and prayers. However, if you’re interested in creating a personal amulet or charm inspired by omamori, you can make your own version while respecting the cultural and spiritual significance. 

Here’s a general guide:

  1. Research and Intention: Learn about the purpose and symbolism of omamori. Decide on the specific intention or blessing you want your homemade amulet to represent, such as protection, good health, or success.
  1. Materials: Gather the necessary materials, including a small fabric pouch, needle, thread, and decorative elements like beads, embroidery thread, or symbols that align with your intention.
  1. Design and Sewing: Design the layout of your omamori. Cut a rectangular piece of fabric, fold it in half, and sew the sides together, leaving the top open. Consider adding a small loop at the top for hanging purposes.
  1. Blessings and Prayers: Write or print out a personal prayer or blessing that aligns with your intention. This can be in your native language or in Japanese if you prefer. Place the prayer or blessing inside the fabric pouch.
  1. Decoration: Embroider or decorate the outside of the fabric pouch with symbols, patterns, or beads that reflect your intention. This can include traditional motifs or personal designs that hold meaning for you.
  1. Closing and Final Touches: Sew the top of the pouch securely to close it. Add any final decorative elements or personal touches to make it unique and visually appealing.
  1. Personal Blessing: To infuse your homemade omamori with your own intentions and energy, you can perform a personal blessing or ritual. This can include meditation, expressing gratitude, or reciting your own prayers or affirmations.

Remember, while making your own amulet can be a creative and personal experience, it is not a replacement for the traditional omamori obtained from shrines or temples. 

The homemade version should be regarded as a personal item and not as an authentic religious or spiritual artifact.

Does omamori expire?

Yes, omamori have an expiration date. Typically, omamori are considered effective for one year from the date of their purchase or when they are received as an offering from a shrine or temple. 

This duration is often indicated on the omamori itself, either with the year printed on it or through a string of colored threads that are tied around it.

After the expiration date has passed, it is customary to return the old omamori to a shrine or temple for proper disposal. 

This act symbolizes the renewal of blessings and protection. At the shrine or temple, the old omamori will be ritually burned or ceremonially discarded in a respectful manner.

It’s important to note that the expiration of an omamori does not mean that its spiritual significance or the goodwill associated with it immediately vanishes. 

Instead, it signifies the time to renew and obtain a new omamori to continue receiving the blessings and protection associated with it.

If you have an omamori and are unsure about its expiration date or proper disposal, it is advisable to consult with a shrine or temple or seek guidance from individuals knowledgeable about Japanese religious practices.

How long do omamori work?

The effectiveness or duration of omamori is generally believed to be one year from the date of their purchase or receipt. After this period, it is customary to return the old omamori to a shrine or temple for proper disposal and to obtain a new one.

What is the Japanese talisman for sealing?

Ofuda is the Japanese talisman used for sealing and warding off evil spirits. It is an inscribed talismanic sheet issued by Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples, serving as a physical embodiment of a deity or spiritual entity. 

Ofuda provides spiritual protection and is displayed in homes, businesses, or vehicles. It is not used for sealing objects or spaces but rather for invoking divine blessings and warding off negative influences.

What is the Japanese talisman against evil?

Omamori is the Japanese talisman against evil. It is a small fabric pouch containing prayers and blessings, personalized for specific needs or desires. Carried on one’s person, it provides continuous spiritual protection and wards off evil spirits.

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