Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat
The Maneki Neko is a cat figurine believed to bring good luck. A classic Maneki Neko looks like Japanese bobtail cats with a calico coat, but the cat now comes in all types and colors. Typically, one or both paws are raised. They are often called “waving cats” in English because of the position of the paw, but in Japan, this gesture, with the palm facing down, is used to beckon someone toward you. Others see a cat raising a paw to wash itself.
Omamori, lucky talismans
The Omamori is an amulet with covers made of Japanese style silk cloth pieces. They enclose prayers written on paper or on wooden pieces kept inside. “Mamoru” means in Japanese “to protect”, so “omamori” literally means “protection”. We can see them in different colors and shapes available in almost all shrines and temples. They are believed to bring good luck and they are available in various names for bringing safety and fortune in different places and situations. It is also believed that the cover, if opened, will lose its power of protection and hence it can never be opened.
Daruma, Bodhidharma dolls
The daruma dolls come mostly in reddish color with the face of a man with thick eyebrows and a mustache, which is also believed to be a good luck charm in Japan. They are made of paper or ceramics and it is also believed that this will bring luck, love, courage, and power. These dolls are available in five important colors and each has different meaning based on the goals. For example, a red daruma doll brings good luck and fortune, a white doll promotes love and harmony, and a gold doll brings wealth.
Omikuji, paper fortunes
Omikuji are strips of paper containing good or bad predictions. They are available at shrines and temples in return for a small donation. If the fortune is good, you keep it and hang on to your luck. If the prophecy is bad, you tie the strip up on a wire or string at the shrine with the others and leave the bad luck behind you.
Ema, wishing plaques
Ema is a common sight at many shrines. They are small wooden plaques that people write their dreams and wishes on as a public declaration, and sometimes in the hopes that the resident kami (Shinto deity) will one day hear them. These wooden plaques are eventually burned in ceremonial fires at the shrines.
Koinobori, carp streamers
Koinobori are carp streamers. They are a traditional decoration for Children’s Day, a national holiday that occurs in May each year. These windsocks are a symbol of good luck and represent the family’s wishes to have happy, healthy and successful children.
Senbazuru, 1,000 paper cranes
Senbazuru are string of 1000 origami cranes. It's said that anyone who finishes a string within a year will be granted by a crane. The Japanese historically believed that cranes were powerful creatures who lived 1000 years.