Charms and Superstitions

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Japanese Charms, Spells, and Superstitions Christine Perry

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Page 1: Charms and Superstitions

Japanese Charms, Spells, and SuperstitionsChristine Perry

Page 2: Charms and Superstitions

Temples and Shrines?

Temples in Japan, such as the famed Kinkaku-ji

in Kyoto, are known as “otera”. Buddhist.

Shrines in Japan, such the Ise Grand Shrine in

Mie Prefecture, are known as “jinja”. Shinto.

The structures often share architectural elements

but shrines sometimes have fewer rooms.

Purpose of each differ, however.

Page 3: Charms and Superstitions


Purchasable from Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, can sometimes purchase as souvenirs in souvenir shops

Various purported effects and “boosts”

Good for one year, then should be returned to the shrine to be destroyed

Never open an omamori

Contains paper or wood with a blessing inscribed

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In the shape of the bodhisattva, Bodhidharma (Zen)

Dolls originated in his temple in Gunma Prefecture as omamori, very popular

Comes eyeless, draw on one eye to invoke it and make a wish. When fulfilled, draw on the other eye.

Good luck charm in Japanese households

Shape makes it so it doesn’t fall down easily. Symbolizes resilience and recovery from slight.

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Written charms used to ward away misfortune and harm, standard uses name of deity and name of shrine

Used to protect households, drawn by Shinto priests and blessed

Kind like a big omamori that is not portable but can protect whole buildings/groups of people


Commonly seen in modern media, but in various ways

Kamidana containing ofuda (center), ema, mirror, offering

bowl, daruma doll, gohei, hamaya

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Salt and Water

Salt used as substance to repel nearby evil


Sumo, maki-shio, mori-shio, at funerals

Water is used to cleanse the face and hands

before entering the shrine grounds

Misogi and harae

Symbolizes purification of the inherently unclean

human body and soul


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Families throw roasted

beans (usually

soybeans) to drive

demons away from the


Purifies the home for

the new year (February


The modern practice

has changed

somewhat from the

traditional roots- kids

just like to throw

beans, often at their

dads who wear a scary


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Don’t clip your nails at night. If you do, you

won’t be with your parents when they die.

Kill a spider that intrudes upon you at night

because they are bad luck (morning is ok


The thunder god may steal your belly button

if you expose your belly during a


If eggplants appear in your first dream of the

new year, it is good luck

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If you lie down right after you eat, you’ll

become a cow.

If a hearse drives past/if you are walking by a

cemetery, you should hide your thumbs.

Numbers 4 and 9

Don’t sleep with head facing north.

Don’t stick chopsticks upright in your bowl of


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Tradition and today

Many traditions are rooted deeply in history but

are still practiced in the modern era.

Pride in history and tradition allows even obscure

traditions and beliefs to live on in media

representations and elsewhere.

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Page 12: Charms and Superstitions

Thank you for coming!

Check out my Facebook page for this

presentation and if you have any additional

questions/comments or if you are interested in

learning more about Japan and the Japanese