Omikuji - Take Only Good Luck With You
Try Omikuji Fortunes at Shrines and Temples
Omikuji - おみくじ - are fortune papers from temples and shrines that offer advice for your health, career, and good luck in general. There are positive ones - marked kichi 吉 - and negative ones - marked kyou 凶. The most positive one is the daikichi 大吉, the big fortune.
You can find omikuji at both temples and shrines. At Senso-ji temple in Asakusa you shake a box full of sticks. The stick you draw shows the number of your omikuji. Take a paper from the drawer with the corresponding number and see if you are 吉 lucky. Other temples and shrines might give you a random omikuji or let you draw one.
Senso-ji's omikuji offer Japanese and English advice. Part of it reads like a poem. My first omikuji this year was a regular fortune 吉 with interesting imagery: "The big fish will grow up to be a giant bird and fly up to the sky, making so many violent high waves." There is also advice in specific categories such as illness, lost items, and travel such as "To start a trip is well, with no harm."
Since my omikuji was a positive one I kept it. It is a thin piece of paper you can keep in your wallet as a reminder of your visit. Had I drawn a negative 凶 omikuji, I would have folded it and tied it to the tree or line where the bad luck ones are collected. That way you leave bad luck behind at the shrine or temple and only take the good luck with you.
I am happy with my regular fortune and like to believe I can catch that big fish as my omikuji suggests: "When you throw a fishing rod, you can catch a chance to get a fine career like to get a giant fish."