Omamori Charms – I think you will agree that Japanese traditional culture is fascinating and the more you learn about it, the more you feel that you still have so much to uncover!
Today, we are going to discover together the concept of Omamori so enjoy this article and let us know if you have more questions in the comments below.
What’s an Omamori Charm?
Omamori charms are small colourful good-luck pouches which contain sacred inscriptions inside. They are commonly sold in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. They act as charms to ward off or protect the owner from evil spirits and bad luck.
Most visitors to Japan would have come across these omamori amulets. Whenever you visit the shrines or temples, towards the beginning or the end there is usually a small shop selling trinkets such as these.
Omamori charms did not, however, originate in Japan. They were brought to Japan through a similar Buddhist practice, but have since taken off as the perfect souvenir after visiting these religious sites. They are one of the most popular Japanese lucky charms!
If you’re looking for a gift to bring back home after a trip to Japan, these are the perfect options.
But if you are not coming to Japan anytime soon, you can also get omamori charms directly to your home via our online shop.
The Different Types of Omamori
Those who love options will be happy to know that there are many (many) types of charms. Depending on where you get them from, there are different meanings as well as uses for them as well.
Whilst the original rectangular talisman type is still the most popular, the varieties are endless these days. They can come in stickers, phone straps, smaller charms, and even window decals. Nowadays, the younger market will find the appeal in those which feature popular anime characters and famous characters such as Mickey Mouse.
Below we’ll list some of the most popular omamori charms that you can purchase:
Success (‘katsumori’) – 勝守
This is arguably one of the most popular types of talisman across most Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. If you have a looming challenge or a big hurdle in your life ahead of you, this talisman is a great charm to keep around to help you overcome it.
Ward Away Evil Spirits (‘yakuyoke’) – 厄除け
Whilst the previous charm may have the goal of helping you reach great achievements, this omamori charm works in the manner to prevent potential evils from getting in the way of your success. If you’ve recently experienced a bad event or encounter, this charm will help you rid the aftermath.
Prosperity (‘shoubai-hanjou’) – 商売繁盛
The shoubai-hanjou omamori charm commonly comes in the form of a yellow money bag, but if not, it is almost always yellow at the least! This charm is used mostly to help people with their finances. You’ll find them hanging from salarymen’s briefcases, student’s backpacks, etc. If you need help with investments, finding money, or even sales whilst shopping, these omamori charms are the perfect little partners.
Traffic Safety (‘koutsu-anzen’) – 交通安全
These are almost self-explanatory. You will find this particular omamori charm hanging off the dashboards and various parts of the cars belonging to taxi drivers, heavy vehicle drivers, and even students who have a looming driving test ahead of them (possibly along with the katsumori and the yakuyoke charms!).
Happiness (‘shiawase’) – 幸せ
This is quite a general talisman that almost anyone can purchase for themselves and their loved ones. The thought of keeping a happy omamori charm close at all times may be comforting to certain people and bring about a change of perspective.
Love (‘enmusubi’) – 縁結び
Love comes in all shapes and sizes, and in all forms and colours. It is also one of the most common charms to purchase and receive, and whether you’re in a relationship, married, there is definitely a charm for you to keep the romantic vibes going. If you’re single, hanging onto one of these just might bring you luck in the love department!
Education (‘gakugyou-jouju’) – 学業成就
Rather than for actual the results of learning itself, this is a talisman that many students use as a form of encouragement for them to study hard, well and often. They often have these hanging from their backpacks all year round, whilst there is a different one specifically for taking tests and exams.
Family (‘kanai-anzen’) – 家内安全
For those with families or who are becoming a family, this omamori charm provides protection to the household, prosperity, and safety and well-being to the entire family.
Get Well Soon (‘Byoki-heyu’) – 病気平癒
You must be quite careful about who you get this particular omamori charm for. It is not for health and safety upkeep; rather, it is for those who are recovering from a recent illness or health scare.
Luck (‘kaiun’) – 開運
Rather than to ward off evil spirits and luck, this talisman is one to keep all year around to boost your luck and keep good luck and vibes surrounding you. These are a popular souvenir item and appeal to the public for their minimal exterior design, often showing only the name of the shrine or temple without much decoration.
Special charms which are not commonplace:
Kitsune Wallet Protection
These special fox charms are not as common as those mentioned above, although they’re super aesthetic! They’re similar to the money omamori charms, except these ones are more for safekeeping what you’ve already got.
This charm is meant for athletes who are looking for that extra oomph before their sports season starts. You would usually purchase this and keep it on your body for the entire season, and then get rid of it once the season is over. For Olympic athletes, these charms would usually be burnt during the ceremony.
For those who have a fear of hopping on planes and generally feel anxious when flying, these charms are the perfect little companions as they’re said to offer comfort for the holder. It can be found at Tobifudo Shrine, which is north of Sensoji Temple in Tokyo.
Technology (‘joho anzen kigan’) – 情報安全祈願
These omamori charms were created just a little over a decade ago. They came about when Japan accelerated into the digital world and realised that there were some troubles there. These relatively innovative charms are meant to assist with keeping your safe against viruses and hackers.
Where To Keep It?
It is up to you where you would like to keep your omamori charms, however, many Japanese people hang it off their everyday bag and/or suitcases. This is a sure-fire way of ensuring the charm will stay with them all the time.
However, it does depend on what type of charm it is. For example, the traffic omamori charms usually hang inside the car, whereas the technology omamori charms are usually kept near or on the main computer/laptop.
How Long Can I Keep My Omamori?
There is no right or wrong here. Some families actually keep omamori charms for generations, and pass these intricate charms down to their children as they grow older. This is a beautiful tradition to have and if you enjoy this type of thing, by all means go ahead!
Other people will say that after a year or so, the charms will need to be replaced for a new one. This also applies if the omamori becomes heavily damaged as well.
Can I Get More Than One Charm?
Of course! There is no limit to how many charms you can keep on yourself. However, like many things, overuse may take away some of the magic.
Our advice would be to purchase first the charms that you are looking for a bit of luck and protection in.
How Do I Look After My Omamori?
Priests believe that omamori charms will become damaged, dirtied, and get lost because it is protecting the owner. This is true for many items in life. With omamori charms, you can expect for there to be general wear and tear and that is perfectly normal.
If it does become dirty, do not try and wash it, as this means you are washing away the protective power of the charm. If the string breaks, you can place it inside of your bag rather than hang it outside.
Can I Peek Inside The Omamori Charm?
Absolutely not! This is considered disrespectful and it is believed that this act will release all of the luck and powers of the charms into the world.
The most popular time to purchase new charms or dispose of old charms is around the New Year period, when people are trying to wash away the bad luck of the previous year and ring in the new year with as much luck as possible.
If you want a little luck and magic in your life, we recommend visiting a Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple during this period (or any period during the year!), and finding the perfect little omamori charm to be your companion in the new year.
If you are not in Japan, feel free to order omamori amulets directly from our shop.
And if you are looking to get other Japanese lucky charms, check out these articles too: Maneki Neko (lucky cats), Koinobori, Furin, Japanese Ema and Daruma Dolls.