Omikuji is a form of fortune telling found at shrines and temples across Japan. Typically good fortunes leaflets are taken home and bad fortunes leaflets are tied to a pine tree or wall of metal wires alongside other bad fortunes that were left behind. After all, who wants to take home a bad fortune.
I took this photo several years ago in Kamakura and it is a common sight at shrine and temple grounds.
In the following video a woman gives a short but informative explanation about Omikuji and a reading of the bad fortune she received. Her interpretation was that it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as much as it was an opportunity to change ones course of action and let go of things they didn’t have control of.
Omikuji and fortune telling in this form touches on a reality that everyone at one time or another will be faced with; what are we to do with the misfortunes that we either bring on ourselves or that we fall into. Life gets hard sometimes and the weight of it all makes moving past these experiences more complicated than what trying to leave it behind tied to a tree can accomplish.
Not too long ago I came across this painting titled “Cursed.” It very beautifully captures the essence of what Jesus accomplished on the cross becoming cursed on our behalf taking our sins, shame, and misfortunes. Our curse became his curse and his blessing became our salvation. This is an eternal blessed fortune we have continual access to that frees us to let go of these bad fortunes and let God flip it for something good that we could never accomplish on our own.
You can learn more about the inspiration of this painting at art-for-jesus.blogspot.com. It’s a beautiful reminder that Jesus has removed everything that would separate us from God’s love and presence. This painting might be an easy segue into a discussion with your Japanese friends and family especially during this season of happy go lucky hanami viewers near and around shrines and temples.