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Shrine fortunes: The many levels of luck in Japan

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By Matthew Coslett

At portent times such as the new year, Japanese people often wait in long lines at shrines to draw a special kind of fortune known as an omikuji (御籤).

In the past before significant events, lots would be drawn to determine whether the venture would be blessed by the spirits. The final part of the word, kuji meaning a lottery, is apt as omikuji involves drawing a numbered stick from a container. The number refers to the fortune you will be given and how much luck you will receive.

These days, other styles also exist, ranging from the relatively common pulling a folded piece of paper from a container to the less common omikuji vending machine.

Feeling lucky?

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Ready to get your fortune told? Head to one of these at the shrine. Photo: iStock/ TkKurikawa

While you may think that all luck is the same, many different types of luck are available in Japan. The character for luck is 吉 (きち), so look out for these on your omikuji. Even among the lucky, there are different levels of luck ranging from big luck to small.

Some of the common ones to look out for include the following:

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Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

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