Ema are small, painted, wooden boards or plaques found displayed in Shinto shrines.
Usually purchased for around 500 yen and bearing the chief symbol or characteristic motif of the shrine or an animal associated with the Chinese zodiac, ema are inscribed with a wish or hope: success in exams, luck in marriage or finding a partner, a healthy child-birth, financial prosperity, winning the lottery...anything is possible...just buy a plaque, fill in the details, pray to the kami (gods) and hang it up with the rest.
Often the image on the plaque may be of a horse, uma or ma in
Japanese means "horse" hence ema is literally "horse picture".
You don't have to write in Japanese, the Shinto gods are multi-lingual and will understand your wish.
These ema are from Zozan Shrine in Matsushiro in Nagano Prefecture in central Japan.
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Friday, September 19, 2008