The omamori (御守 / お守り) is a popular Japanese amulet, a kind of pendant that is made from fabric that is sold and used in Japanese temples and shrines. Its main objective is to protect and give fortune to those who wear it.
Its name comes from the verb “mamoru,” which means to protect, to take care and to defend. According to the belief, it prevents accidents, improves health, helps us find love or pass examinations and bring other types of good luck.
The Japanese carry omamori in many places, including their pockets, their purses, their cars or even hanging from their mobile phones.
What is the History of Omomori Amulets?
The omamori first came into existence in the 17th century. In the past they were made of wood or paper, but today they are made of cloth and have the shape of a rectangular bag. The bag, called omamori-bukuro, is usually brightly colored silk and has the name of the sanctuary where it was purchased embroidered on the back. Inside, and always closed to view, you will find a rectangular inscription that can be made of paper, cardboard or even a thin sheet of wood. The inscription bears the name of the god protector for the occasion and a prayer written or blessed by a monk.
While there are general omamori, who will generally protect us from any negative situation, there are also specific omamori, which invoke a specific god who serves to protect us or help us in very specific and specific situations.
In many temples and shrines there are explanations in English, but just in case, here is an explanation of some of the most common omamori:
- Good luck, fortune (開運, kaiun): These are very general omamori, that simply give us good luck or fortune. They are perfect for gifts or for you to carry around on a daily basis, if you don’t have specific requirements.
- Zoom out all bad (厄除け, yakuyoke): These omamori are also very general. In this sense, they are very similar to the previous one. But this one achieves the same result by working in the opposite direction – it simply seeks to remove all evil from our lives.
- Happiness (幸せ, shiawase): These omamori seek to bring happiness for us – no more and no less. There is nothing else they need.
- Road safety (交通安全, kōtsū-anzen): This is the perfect omamori for drivers and travellers, seeking to protect them from all kinds of accidents.
- omamori of the Meotoiwa rocks in Futami
- Omamori of couple bought in Meotoiwa, Futami.
- Money (金運, kin’un): omamori to earn money, in the broad sense of the word (to get your salary raised, your business making more money, etc.).
- Love (縁結び, en-musubi): This omamori is used to find a partner and for marriage. It is perfect for single people who want to find a partner or for couples who want to strengthen their love. In the first case they are usually sold individually, while in the second case they are sold in pairs.
- Childbirth without complications (安産, anzan): omamori perfect for pregnant women, to have a good pregnancy and a childbirth without complications. Tradition has it that women who buy this item should place it close to the womb, so that it is also in contact with the fetus. Perfect gift for pregnant friends.
- Success in studies (学業成就, gakugyō-jōju): This omamori is perfect for students, who seek good luck in studies and exams. If you have a friend or acquaintance who has to deal with a complicated exam, this is the perfect gift.
- Health (健康, kenkō): This omamori protects us from disease to ensure a life full of health.
- Recovering health (病気平癒鵜, byouki heyu). While the omamori listed above have a very general purpose, this one is more specific. Its purpose is to help you continue living with health. This omamori is great when you want to recover quickly after an illness, an accident, etc.. If we have a friend or acquaintance sick or in recovery, this would be a perfect gift.
- Prosperity in business (商売繁盛, shōbai hanjō): This omamori is perfect for people that want to achieve success in a business and thus care for our employment and economic situation.
- Family Health and Wellness (家内安全, kanai-anzen): omamori to bring peace and prosperity to the family home and all its members.
These are the most common, although depending on the temple or sanctuary we can find different specific omamori to meet the specific needs of its inhabitants. Also, at present there are some modern omamori, with anime characters (especially if they are related in some way to the temple or sanctuary) like the one we buy at the Yatsurugi sanctuary in Kisarazu (Chiba).