Translated by Collin Radford
Japanese Encyclopedia: Omikuji (Fortune Telling)
Written by Hiromasa Uematsu
Ask any Japanese and they will most certainly know what an "omikuji" is. Find out what this fun activity involves.
"Omikuji" is a type of Japanese fortune telling, which predicts your luck in the near future. You can purchase them at shrines and temples for between 100 and 200 yen.
In most cases, the fortunes are written on paper and placed in some sort of container, from which visitors choose their fortune at random. There is no way to tell your fortune before you choose it.
On each omikuji is your luck separated into categories such as "love" and "work". They also have general luck written onto them; these days most omikuji have English translations as well.
What are "Daikichi" (大吉) and "Daikyo" (大凶)? - Degrees of luck
"Daikichi" (大吉)＞"chukichi" (中吉)＞"shokichi" (小吉)＞"kyo" (凶)＞"daikyo" (大凶) are, from order to best to worst, the degrees of luck you may get from omikuji. However, this is just for reference. Japanese people don't generally pay much attention to them, especially if they get a bad result.
They even have a special way of dealing with fortunes they don't like.
Shrines generally have places, known as "musubidokoro", where you can tie up your omikuji and leave it behind. Traditionally, if you end up with a less than desirable fortune, you can tie it up and reverse it into good fortune.
It has become customary to visit a shrine and have your fortune told on New Year's Day in Japan. Apart from New Year's Day however, you are free to draw omikuji any time you are at a shrine.
There are also shrines that sell special omikuji. Even if you don't buy one, going and checking them out can add some new fun to your shrine visits.