Help! I need a bad fortune!

English fortune

The friendly dispenser where I bought my first ever Japanese fortune… in English. Kinkakuji in Kyoto.

Superstitious or not, it’s fun to buy a fortune. Fortunes are easy to find at shrines and temples in Japan and cost Y100 or occasionally Y200. Some come with a little charm inside for you to carry in your wallet.

Fortunes are usually drawn from an open tray or deep container or come out of a machine. Another option is shaking a round wooden box until a stick pops out of a tiny hole. This stick has a number on the end that matches to a self-serve drawer where you collect your fortune. Otherwise, someone hands it to you.

Finding fortunes in English is more difficult outside of tourist areas. Asking someone if your fortune is good or bad with a thumbs up or down is probably enough! After years of buying fortunes, there isn’t much difference in the details.

I'm so sorry!

I’m so sorry. You’re destined for bad luck… FOREVER. (Well, this is not what the sign says. It’s apologizing for the construction but I know you can work with me on this.)

After you read your fortune, tie it to the trees or racks nearby.

My first BAD fortune

There are different grades of fortune but they can be grouped into two categories: bad and good. If you draw good, great! What happens if you draw bad??

I have purchased around 30 fortunes over eight years. The majority have been good with quite a few “best” fortunes.

Until 2012. I drew my first bad fortune. In fact, I drew the WORST possible fortune. I tried to laugh it off but couldn’t really. My sister got the same fortune at the same place almost four years earlier. Four is a particularly bad number in Japan so I was doubly worried.

bad fortune

My first ever BAD fortune. I’m crying inside. (Note the rack to the left and the drawers behind us!)

The place was Sensoji in Tokyo. Hitoshi refuses to buy fortunes there. It is notorious for bad fortunes.

When we got home, I told my father-in-law and showed him the fortune. I had broken tradition and kept it, just like my sister had. His response surprised me.

My terrible fortune was not terrible at all! In fact, the fortune showed that I had hit rock bottom and my fortune could only improve. In fact, a good fortune means you are about to encounter some bumps because fortune cannot be sustained. “Don’t worry”, he told me once more.

I thought about what he said and rationalized it to be true to comfort myself.

Kiyomizudera, Kyoto entrance

The entrance to Kiyomizudera where I drew my second BAD fortune. Cue ominous tunes. It looks scary, eh?

BAD Fortune – AGAIN!

Earlier this year, I drew my second “worst” fortune at Kiyomizudera Shrine in Kyoto. It was odd timing because we were returning a special 1000 shrine visits charm we bought and had blessed in 2012. Tradition says that when you make a wish on a shrine or temple charm and your wish comes true, you must return the charm. Hitoshi again refused to buy a fortune but I couldn’t resist. Again, my mood sank with my “worst” fortune.

A few days later, we visited Sanjusangendou Temple, also in Kyoto. My heart was set on seeing the complex and perhaps seeing our twins! The legend says that every person has a twin somewhere in the 1000 statues. Hitoshi found mine and we had fun trying to find his and one for baby.

After we exited, we hung out by space heaters trying to warm up. There, by a pillar, were two boxes filled with fortunes. Being an optimist and still brooding about my super bad fortune, I took a chance.

Hurrah! I chose well – the best fortune possible. We decided it cancelled out my bad fortune and I was back to neutral. Hitoshi thought it was best to stop while I was ahead. I was twirling around with glee, my mood changed in an instant.

entrance to Sanjusangendou

The entrance to Sanjusangendou where my fortunes were balanced.

So, why do I want a super bad fortune NOW?

Let me tell you. In the last two weeks:

  • I wrecked my knee leaving me hobbling in pain.
  • My 7-year old Toshiba laptop died.
  • I had only four visitors to my blog earlier this week!
  • Our car got towed from practically under our window after getting three parking tickets for being too close to an alley. Huh?? We didn’t see the tickets since we don’t usually drive the car on weekdays. At first, I thought our car had been stolen!
oni costume

This is how I’ve felt after all my recent bad fortune!

Please! I need a super ultra bad fortune because I need things to get better!

Have you drawn a good or bad fortune in Japan? What happened next? Are you superstitious like me?

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9 thoughts on “Help! I need a bad fortune!

  1. I drew the second best fortune when I was at Senso-ji in July. Don’t know what I would have done, if I had drawn a bad one. Probably just bought more sticks until the good ones eventually outweighed the bad one. Though, I see a point in what your father in law told you:)

    • I like the idea to keep drawing until you come up with a good one. I never thought of that! I was soooo sad to draw my first ever bad fortune but I guess my good streak had to end eventually. 😀

  2. I drew my online fortune from the online Japanese shrine website and it said that my fortune will improve! First though, I have to assess what is important in life. Hmmm…. what’s important in life???

  3. Sorry, I don’t want to wish you any bad fortune, but just keep thinking “it can only get better” 🙂
    I hope your knee gets better soon, I had a knee operation 2 years ago and was “immobile” for a couple of weeks, so I can relate how annoying and painful it is

    Re views on your blog, did you know that apparently views via the WordPress Reader don’t count as “visitors/proper views”? I only realised this the other day. The theory behind it is that because reading via the Reader is not actually a visit to your blog website, it doesn’t count…

    I know that some bloggers have changed the reader settings of their blog, so that it only shows a small portion, forcing viewers to go to the website, but a)I don’t think it that setting works on all devices and b)personally I am not a big fan of this. Yes, it does bring up your view stats, but it also can put of readers. I love browsing through the reader using different tag subjects, discovering new bloggers. If a post is interesting I will take then make the effort to go to the original blog to read more posts. If I have to open a different browser/view for every “hint” of an interesting post, I tend to not bother….

    • Thanks much! 😀 Ohhh… I’ve heard knee surgery is awful. I still have some stiffness but at least I can almost straighten my leg again!
      Yes! I read about that at some point. Weird, eh? That’s a good point about changing the setting. I have mine on the blurb setting but maybe I should change it? I like going to the site because I’m not a huge fan of the reader but it’s good to hear your opinion. I just signed up with bloglovin’ and I’m going to give their set-up a try to see if it works better for me.

      • Grr pressed the send button too early (typing on phone is frustrating). Contin about the Reader: for visiting the actual original blog and for commenting I prefer my laptop but can only do that when at home

      • I think only half of my reply got through which wont make much sense
        Will try again tonight on laptop.
        Just to say that your blog posts show in full when I use the reader on my phone (android) but blurb only when I use reader on lapptop or ipad.

      • Continued 12 hours later: Can’t even remember what I was going to reply before I deleted it accidentally this morning…and it has been a long long long long looong Monday…so I guess you will just have to go without my profound and intelligent feedback….haha

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