20 Japanese Lucky Charms

20 Japanese Lucky Charms

If you’re anything like us, you want as much luck as you can get. See what interesting items are considered lucky in Japan!

  1. Daruma – The Daruma doll is commonly made from papier maché and modeled after the Bodhidharma, a prominent Buddhist monk who is said to have founded the Zen sect of the faith. These rounded dolls are a cross between a charm and a toy, with many giving them as gifts of encouragement. The Daruma doll’s eyes are normally blank and solid white, so the owner can draw one eye in when a goal is made, and draw the other once the goal is met! We’ve got tons of goals to meet, so bring on the dolls!
  2. Omamori – These amulets are normally found at religious sites and temples. The Omamori is named after the word which means “protection” in Japanese, and is said to do just this. These amulets are normally woven silk coverings that hold prayers and well wished inside. These good luck charms are portable and make warding off bad luck an easy everyday task. We want one on all of our belongings.
  3. Daikokuten – Daikokuten is one of the Seven Lucky Gods that are revered in Japan. Famously recognisable because of his flat black beret, the Daikokuten was once a fierce warrior but has now evolved into what is known as an agricultural god that brings wealth and prosperity. Statues of all shapes and sizes can be found around Japan, mostly within businesses and homes to welcome in prosperity!
  4. Eho Maki – This one has got to be one of our favourite good luck charms found in Japan-good fortune sushi rolls! Getting good luck and eating sushi? Sign us up. The Eho Maki is a large sushi roll prepared for special occasions. The delicacy is meant to bring good fortune, but it has to be eaten in just the right fashion. First, no cutting! The Eho Maki is meant to be eaten in one continuous sitting. Second, eat it in the lucky direction! The direction the Eho Maki is eaten in changes with each year; with 2016’s direction being South South East! Lastly, shut up! No really, the Eho Maki is meant to be eaten in complete silence. We’ll be quietly munching away now.
  5. Maneki Neko – Ever wondered where Hello Kitty came from? The Maneki Neko is a beckoning cat that is normally embodied by way of a ceramic or plastic figurine. Cats are thought to be very lucky spirits in Japan, and many folktales tell the story of a beckoning cat protecting emperors from traps and bringing good luck to business owners. These tales have lead the Maneki-Neko into being one of the most iconic and internationally recognised good luck charms.
  6. Ema – the Japanese Ema are wooden wish boards.  They feature colourful illustrations which normally depict animals or Japanese architecture. They are left hanging in shrines at which spirits and gods receive them. These magical wish boards are then sold to the public to help grant wishes about anything and everything.
  7. Spiders (in the morning) - This one took us a second to wrap our minds around. The last thing we’d normally want to see in our vicinity is a spider. Especially first thing in the morning. But in Japan, this is an omen of immense good luck! The spider appears in several Japanese myths and is never to be killed – unless seen at night!
  8. Tsuru (Cranes) – Cranes are thought to have a lifespan of one thousand years, and are symbols of good luck and longevity because of this. You might’ve heard of the 1000 paper cranes from Japan. If you haven’t, the story is that when one folds 1000 origami cranes, they are granted one wish. This legend is the premise of Sadako and the Paper Cranes, a popular historical fiction book that chronicles the life of a real young Japanese girl’s life after surviving the Hiroshima bombing. Sadako and her cranes have become icons in Japanese culture, representing the many affected by the violent phenomenon.
  9. Fukoru (Owl) – In Japan, owls are thought to bring luck and protection from suffering. You can find a variety of representations of owls in Japanese culture. Many are ceramic, and found in gardens and other outdoor areas. Owls can also be seen as pendants and toys and are very easily found!
  10. Fukusuke – The Fukusuke doll depicts a kneeling man with a large head. Back in the Edo period of 1603-1868, there would be Fukusuke dolls in many locations, particularly tea houses and other places where people gathered. Not only was the Fukusuke doll supposed to bring wealth and honour, it also promised infinite youth! That part hooked us! You can also find a Fukusuke on the cover of The Beatles’ 'Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band' album.
  11. Teru Teru Bozu – These good luck charms are some of our favourite, because they’re just so darn cute. As if they were strung up emojis, the Teru Teru Bozu dolls are simple and expressive. These little characters are put up to prevent bad weather from approaching. Once used by Japanese farmers, the creation and utilization of the Teru Teru Bozu is widespread among Japanese children now, and can constantly be seen around Japan. Rain rain, go away!
  12. O-mikuji – Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan are all laden with fortunes printed on strips of decorative paper. These strips are known as the O-mikuji in Japan. The O-mikuji are received normally in exchange for a small offering. The receiver of the O-mikuji unfolds the paper and discovers what their fortune holds. This could be a combination of blessings in all areas of life, whether it be health or wealth or romance!
  13. Hotei – There are countless interpretations of this god of contentment and happiness all over the world. However, Hotei’s appearance remains recognisable despite his slightly varying forms. Hotei is always in a robe, and his face is always grinning ear to ear, frozen in laughter. But the most iconic part of Hotei is where all the luck comes from – the belly. The cheerful god with a big round body can be spotted all over the world in homes, temples, even places of business. It is said rubbing his belly brings good luck and happiness. And with that smile, who wouldn’t believe that?
  14. Matsu – Pine trees are evergreen, and survive every season of the year. This makes the pine tree a symbol of good luck, longevity, and survival in Japan. Bits of pine are used in decorative arrangements placed in entryways during the new year. We love having plants in an entryway, especially now that we know they can bring us luck!
  15. Kit Kat – Brightly wrapped in lucky red and offering a variety of flavor, the Kit Kat is considered to bring good luck in Japan. These sweet treats come in all kinds of flavors in Japan like green tea (our favourite) and even red bean! Kit Kats are often given to students during tests and exams in Japan. Does this give us an excuse to eat Kit Kats all day? I mean, it’s for good luck!
  16. 7 Lucky Gods – We’ve mentioned a couple of the most well-known and internationally recognized good luck gods of Japan, but the 7 all together is a motif in its own. For centuries, the 7 Lucky Gods of Japan have been celebrated and respected, appearing in Japanese folklore, media, décor, and spirituality. The gods are Ebisu, Daikokuten, Bishamonten, Benzaiten, Fukurokuju, Jurojin, Hotei, and Kichijoten. Each god comes from a different Japanese folktale, or in the case of the smiling Hotei, Asian history. You can find at least one of the Seven Lucky Gods in every corner of Japan, whether you’re watching an anime like 'Happy Seven' or just entering a business and rub the belly of Hotei. Each of these gods is a sign of either protection, luck, happiness, or wealth. Good vibes all around!
  17. Akabeko – Akabeko is a cow revered in Japanese legend. Today, the Akabeko is personified through popular figurines, toys, and amulets. The Akabeko figurines are normally made of wood and covered in a red papier maché. Everyone from children to grandparents have a special place in their hearts for the striped cow, and the figurine’s bobbing head is one of its most cherished and celebrated features. The Akabeko is not only said to bring good luck, but health and happiness as well.
  18. 5 Yen Coin – the 5 Yen coin is worth about a nickel in the US. But the coin holds so much more than monetary value. The 5 Yen coin’s name translates to 'go-en' which is also a phrase used to describe honourably good luck. This is to say the 5 yen is literally Japan’s good luck coin. Much like a lucky penny, this coin is given as a good luck charm and used in many exchanges that deal with luck. For example, the go-en coin is so lucky it is normally the offering provided in exchange for our #12 lucky charm, the O-mikuji fortunes.
  19. Komainu – are decorative statues and images representing what is a cross between a lion and a dog. These creatures are seen as guardians for the good and against the bad, and are placed in entryways and rooves of many establishments. Komainu were once viewed as ferocious and intimidating, however kawaii figurines and popularised versions of the Komainu have become immensely popular.
  20. Kaeru (Frog) – In Japan, frogs aren’t just slimy green amphibians, they represent good luck and a safe return. Because of this connotation, frogs make for super popular charms to be used as jewelry, carried in a pocket, or even in a bag. The word “kaeru” literally means 'return,' so the frog is truly synonymous with the concept of a secure arrival. Our favourite use of the kaeru is the placement of the frog with one’s money, to prevent the loss of funds. We can’t seem to stop spending, so you can bet we’re getting some kaeru charms for our wallets ASAP.