The Luck We Leave Behind

At many Shinto shrines in Japan, visitors can leave a donation and receive a written fortune on a strip of paper. Often, the strips are encased in small clay statues or “selected” by drawing a piece of marked bamboo (or, more rarely, the fortune itself) from a box. Near the place where the fortunes are, there’s usually a rack or display of paper strips, like this one (located at the base of the mountain at Fushimi Inari).  These strips are fortunes people drew but did not want to receive. By tradition and Shinto belief, if you leave your fortune at the shrine where you drew it, the deities will

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