Plus, how hard is it to pull Sensoji’s semi-secret super-lucky omikuji fortune?

Sensoji, in Tokyo’s Asakusa neighborhood, is the city’s biggest, most important temple. That also makes it one of the most popular places for omikuji.

Omikuji is a traditional type of fortune-telling done at temples and shrines in Japan. For a small fee, you receive a strip of paper with your fortune, which falls into one of seven ranks, which in descending order of luckiness are:

Daikichi: Great luck
Kichi: Good luck
Shokichi: Slightly good luck
Hankichi: Half good luck
Suekichi: Not-yet-fulfilled good luck
Sueshokichi: Not-yet-fulfilled good luck
Kyo: Bad luck

Our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa lives within easy walking distance of Sensoji, so he’s stopped by to get an omikuji fortune a couple of times, but he’s never received a daikichi fortune there. What’s more, he’s heard rumors that a large portion of the omikuji fortunes that Sensoji gives out are of the lowest kyo category.

Seiji saw only one way to determine if these rumors were true: buy 100 omikuji fortunes in one day, and see how many he received of each rank. In the process, he learned something else too: Sensoji has a semi-secret de-facto super-lucky daikichi fortune!

This isn’t quite as expensive an experiment as you might think. Sensoji charges just 100 yen (US$0.70), which seems like a bargain for divine insight into your future.

Different places have different formats for how they sell their omikuji. Sensoji has a self-serve-style setup, in which you place your money in a collection box.

Then you pick up this hexagonal canister…

…shake it…

…and a stick with a number slides out.

These numbers, between 1 and 100, correspond with a series of drawers set into the wall. You open up the drawer with your number, and pull out your fortune.

It’s pretty simple, until you try to do it 100 times in a row. For one thing, the metal canister is surprisingly heavy. The sticks don’t slide out very easily, either. With 100 of them in there, they jostle around a lot as you shake, sometimes with one temporarily blocking the hole without coming out itself.

If you’re just getting one fortune, that extra physical and dramatic weight adds a little excitement. After doing about 30 with no break, though, Seiji’s thumb started to cramp up.

If you’re thinking that you’ve never had a thumb cramp, neither had Seiji before this. It’s a strange muscle to have cramp up on its own, so he needed a short break to rest his finger and wrap his mind around the situation.

Once he was good to go again, though, Seiji discovered that he’d developed some omikuji muscle memory, and now he could get the sticks to come out with just a few decisive motions.

Seiji’s stack of fortunes began to grow at an increasing rate, and once he had 100 of them, it was time to head back to SoraNews24 HQ to sort them into ranks.

So is it true that Sensoji is sticking people with tons of bad fortunes? It might look that way at first, with a tally of 26 kyo.

We also had six sueshokichi

10 suekichi, none of which are considered very good…

…plus two ho-hum hankichi.

But we also had five a-little-lucky shokichi

37 lucky kichi fortunes

…and 14 top-rank-lucky daikichi!

▼ Left to right: kyo (凶), sueshokichi (末小吉), suekichi (末吉), hankichi (半吉), shokichi (小吉), kichi (吉), and daikichi (大吉).

So within our 100 omikuji, the most common fortune actually turned out to be kichi, not the unlucky kyo. What’s more, if we take the middle-of-the-road hankichi as the dividing line between good and bad luck, we had 56 good fortunes versus 42 bad.

▼ Seiji’s got a lot to smile about in the days ahead, according to his omikuji.

Oh, and that extra-lucky daikichi we mentioned? Like we said, each stick that comes out of the canister has a number on it, and all of the fortunes in the corresponding drawer are the same rank. If you’re lucky enough to get a stick directing you to drawer 1, you’ll see that it contains a daikichi fortune.

Drawer 1 isn’t the only drawer with daikichi, but Seiji noticed that the drawer 1-daikichi’s wording is a little different than the others’. Omikuji fortunes are broken down into different life aspects, such as health, work, romance, and travel. There’s also a broad, overarching category for “wishes,” and on most of the daikichi fortunes, the paper’s Japanese text told Seiji that they would be “fulfilled.”

But the drawer 1 daikichi informed Seiji that his wishes in life will be “thoroughly fulfilled.”

▼ 充分に叶うでしょう = thoroughly fulfilled

So how many drawer 1 daikichi did Seiji draw out of his 100 omikuji? One. That’s all he needs, though, since it’s promising smooth sailing from here on out for him.

By the way, in case you’re wondering what’s in drawer 100, Seiji didn’t pull any of those fortunes. He can’t help shaking a sense of dread that drawer 100 might hold an ultra-unlucky kyo, but that’s not something his heart, or hands, is ready to investigate.

Top image: Pakutaso
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[ Read in Japanese ]