In your country, what usually symbolizes luck? Are there items or dishes that are supposed to bring good luck? In many countries and cultures, it is customary to eat a dish, always carry or use an object, or even perform a ritual in the hope that luck will knock on the door. Today, although many people no longer believe in the “miracles” of these customs, there are still many people who put a lot of faith in such luck.
1. Maneki Neko Cat
“Maneki” means to greet or wave, and “Neko” means cat. The cat Maneki Neko (bridge cat talent) is probably the small souvenir you’ve ever seen sold in Asian markets. This beckoning cat is made of porcelain, plastic, or perhaps metal, often seen at the entrance of shops. Their colors are also varied: gold, red, white, and black, and they also come in many poses. Each color and each posture has a different meaning, for example, the golden color symbolizes wealth and wealth; black minus love, brings peace.
You can see the Maneki Neko (bridge cat) raising his left or right leg. The right foot invites money and business, the left foot invites customers and expands relationships. There is also a theory that every paw is good for business, but the cat with its left paw is often used in play places like geisha (brothel) or restaurant. Next time you come across a talented cat, pay attention to which foot she is raising.
2. Daruma Doll
Daruma dolls often have red tones, with a male face with bushy eyebrows and mustaches, which are also considered lucky charms in Japan. They are made from paper or porcelain, which is conceived to bring good fortune, predestination, and power. Daruma dolls can be found in five main colors, each expressing a different purpose. For example, red daruma brings good luck, white daruma pray for predestination and harmony, golden daruma pray for wealth.
3. The Omamori
Omamori is a talisman wrapped in Japanese silk. Inside is a wooden card or piece of paper with prayer notes. “Mamoru” in Japanese means “protect”, so the literal meaning of “omamori” is “protection”. We can see omamori of all colors and shapes in most temples. They are said to bring good fortune, and there are also many different types of omamori, pray for luck, luck in many situations and territories. It is also believed that the cloth once opened will not be sacred anymore so it will never be opened.
4. Koi Fish
Carp, or koi fish, is an important symbol of much admiration in Japan. Colorful koi fishes can be found swimming in rivers and lakes near temples and shrines, like in Ueno Park. People perceive these beautiful fish as symbolizing good fortune, happiness, and health. The koi can swim upstream, so it is also considered a symbol of courage and intense will.
Images of koi fish often appear on men’s kimonos and during the feast of boys called “Tano no Sekku” held on 5/5 every year, families with boys are hanging “koinobori” ( koi fish flag) in front of the house. If you are in Japan around the end of April, you will definitely see this beautiful koinobori as a wish for good luck and health to the boys in the family.
5. The Craine
The crane, or “tsuru” in Japanese, appears in most Japanese paintings and is another type of Japanese charm. They are often associated with New Year and marriage. Kimonos worn in traditional wedding ceremonies often embroider paintings or cranes. Another common perception is that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, your wish will come true.
Daikokuten is considered to be a god of prosperity in Hinduism and Buddhism. Daikokuten statues, regardless of their size, are often displayed in homes and shops and are believed to be rich and blessed. Daikokuten is also one of the seven Gods in Japanese opinion.
Matsu, or pine, is grown in many Japanese gardens. Pine is a year-round green tree, able to survive even in the harshest climates, so people think it symbolizes fortune and longevity. During Tet, people use pine, bamboo and apricot to make “kadomatsu”, decorations at the door, office, and temple to welcome the new year. These are trees that bring good fortune according to Japanese beliefs.
The list above lists the 7 most popular lucky charms, but still has nothing to compare with the countless items that the Japanese concept will bring good luck. In addition to the list above, we can also mention here peony, cherry blossoms, and many other lucky symbols. If you happen to meet a geisha and have her give you a piece of paper or a small sticker, don’t hesitate to take it because you may not know it will be good if you keep it in your wallet. Even if you are not superstitious, following the above methods will not lose anything, and if luck comes to knock on the door, do not forget to thank the charm. Depending on the concept of each locality, this item is said to be more sacred than the other item, but there are some things, such as the cat Maneki Neko, that are so popular in the world.