Japanese tradition includes many objects that bring good luck. Shrines and temples dispense traditional amulets and good luck scripts. Souvenir shops sell statues that bring prosperity and good luck to businesses and homes. If you are going to be visiting a traditional Japanese home, you might want to bring a gift that brings good luck as well as your good wishes.
This round doll is usually made out of papier-mâché with a weighted bottom that allows the doll to wobble. With a bright red body and gold and black accents, the doll has a bearded male face modelled on the founder of Zen Buddhism. There are no eyes on a Daruma doll. Recipients can bring about good luck by painting one eye on the doll while concentrating on a goal. The second eye is painted when the goal is successfully achieved. Daruma dolls are traditionally purchased once a year at a temple and then returned to the temple for a symbolic burning after the goal has been achieved at the end of the year.
Omamori are talismans that have been created and blessed by Shinto priests. These charms are usually made of wood or paper and contain a written prayer and the name of a deity. There are special Omamori for motorcycle riders, for recovering from an illness and for students and scholars. Ofuda are a variety of Omamori designed for use and displayed inside the home, often as part of a family altar.
Ceramic sculptures of cats waving a paw are available from a wide variety of souvenir stores. Called Maneki Neko, or Beckoning Cats, these statues beckon good luck and prosperity to enter a store, business or home. The original Maneki Neko was a temple cat who sat by the road beckoning to passersby. As a rich man passed along the road in front of the poor temple, she gestured to him with her paw. Intrigued, the rich man followed the cat to the temple, where he learnt Buddhism and later endowed his fortune to the monks. This Japanese good luck gift promises similar good fortune to anyone who receives it.
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