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3 Nov 2002
While there are different types of omamori, the most popular is known as the omamori bukuro (literally, 窶彡harm in a brocade bag. And that's just what it is. Usually around 1 inch by 2 inches high, these attractive little charms look somewhat like an elaborate teabag with a thin white cord knotted on them. On one side of the bag, the name of the temple or shrine where they were issued will appear, often in gold thread, and on the other side appear words of blessing. Inside the bag is a prayer or blessing invoked and purified by a priest from the temple written on paper or a thin tablet of wood. A word of caution: if you are fortunate enough to receive an omamori, resist the temptation to open it! We've been told that to open one will negate the blessing. Have faith that it's in there. You can always do what we did take a peek when replacing it with a new one.

Omamori probably originated with Shinto practice, with prayers to various kami (spirits) for specific purposes, but Buddhist temples and shrines in Japan also issue omamori. Omamori is technically permanent blessings, but people in Japan like to visit temples to get a new omamori for the new year. Old omamori are burned at the New Year. Omamori can be for general protection, but many are for specific purposes. An omamori for safe driving or safe travel might be hung on the rearview mirror of a car, and one for a prosperous business might be displayed in a shop. One for success in passing exams might be attached to a school bag. Other omamori are for safe childbirth, protection against fire (kept in the home), and even to guard against computer malfunctions! General omamori for good health or protection can be carried in a purse, in a pocket or attached to pillars or gates. Various shrines dedicated to specific purposes will offer omamori for those purposes, so people will visit a particular temple or shrine to obtain an omamori.

It's common to give a member of one's family or a lover an omamori to protect from evil while travelling, or for protection while doing dangerous work. In this way, one prays for their loved one's success, safety and health.

Omamori is such an integral part of Japanese culture that they've become part of Japanese pop-culture. Don't be surprised to see a Hello Kitty omamori, these days, or even an omamori credit card or phone card!

Perhaps it's only human nature to look for something external to lean on to give us comfort. From a Buddhist perspective, however, omamori can help us develop a strong faith in the laws of the universe. Therefore, we can use the omamori to remind us of our strong life-condition, enabling us to tap into the supreme benevolent functions inherent in it.[/size]

Source: http://home.earthlink.net/~ninpobugei/omamori.htm
I would like to note here that not all traditions of Japanese Buddhism condone the use of Omamori. Shinran Shonin (founder of the Jodo Shin-shu tradition of Mahayana Buddhism) was very specific in his admonitions that all superstitions, including Omamori good luck charms, should be abandoned
I'm the anti-burn and replace type. I buy omomori every year during New Year's. I have one in my data planner, used to have one as a key chain, and used to have one on my cell phone.

I've actually have had my previous car purified since I had 3 accidents in 1 year. When I got a different car this year, I just moved the omomori's to it. I saved myself a trip to the local JINJA and $90 for purification and omomori purchaces.

I've been told that a god lives in the little pouch types. Of course, I've never opened one and have had one almost open on me by accident because the closing string broke. Luckly, I tied it up in a hurry.

I think that lot's of temples/shrines use the sales of omomori as a way to boost their profits for the year so the custom has become like White Day, a way to make money.
Santa no Kami

Yes... They do appear to be big money makers especially for the Shinto Spirituality. Perhaps it gives people a sense of safety and confidence. And unless these concepts are taken to extremes, then I guess there is no harm in it. The whole Kami thing appears to be a bit like Santa Clause in reverse. The older generations tend to believe fervently in these Shinto deities and their powers to protect, heal and bring good fortune; while many of the younger generations appear think of these things as mere superstitions.

Don't get me wrong, many young people will pocket the omamori given to them by family during exams and job interviews, but I have also spoken with several Japanese people (including my wife) that hold it as merely a quaint cultural tradition (much in the same way many Westerners hold the Santa Clause tradition to be). It has been my experience that most Japanese don't really believe in Shintoism, but it's so much a part of the culture that it could no easier be done away with than Santa Clause could be done away with in the West.
dear old lucky lucky grandma !!

I can slip some of my LUCKY Grandmum's ashes into a ziplock bag and UPS them to you, no charge !

yeah. anyone know of anywhere we can get them in the US? I need some protection for my final exams and I'm also a horrible driver. heh.
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