Start 2011 Off with a Traffic Safety Omamori


In Japanese tradition, one should visit your local temple for New Year’s. There, for a small donation, you can get a wide assortment of omamori, amulets of silk, wood or metal that will bring you good luck in their respective categories. Typically people seek fortune in the realm of love, prosperity and health. And then there are ones concerning the not-so-ancient rituals of, say, driving an automobile.

Yes, you can get a koutsu anzen omamori, or “traffic safety talisman” to hang from your rear view mirror, or fasten to your window via suction cup. It is not uncommon to find one mounted to the walls of train cars of the Japan Rail system either. Some temples will even let you drive up and get your entire car blessed. So now that we have one hanging on the JNC wagon for 2011, we can drive as fast as we want, right?

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9 Responses to Start 2011 Off with a Traffic Safety Omamori

  1. Lupus said:

    W A N T :P
    Impossible to source in Poland… ;(, as well as Koreisha marks, JAF grille emblems, etc.

  2. bert said:

    I’m gonna go with NO on the whole driving fast thing. While it may sound like fun blasting by cops with your uber cool ride and weird Japanese- zen thingy, the Cressida does have it’s limits!

  3. JT191 said:

    I have been assured that the driving safety charms cover only the physical safety of the occupants of the vehicle, and do not help the mechanical soundness or prevent accident damage to the vehicle. If you walk away and are unharmed, but the vehicle is a twisted mess of metal, the charm is considered to be a success.
    I have spent much time pursuing the matter and been unable to find a charm specifically for the vehicle itself or a shrine or temple that specialize in the same.
    The available purposes are very limited too. Traffic safety, health, love, and college entrance exams. And specifically college entrance exams. None for success in general or victory. These ideas may be too assertive. Or they allow for help from above only with keeping you from being squashed, keeping you from getting sick, finding a mate, and getting into a good school, and everything else is on the back of the individual with no hope for help from above.
    There is a shrine dedicated to the fox which is supposed to specialize in athletes, but no information about charms or if their area overlaps into sports of skill and technology, like motorsports.
    While Shinto considers all living, once living, and natural objects to have a spirit, I do not know if man made objects are considered to have the same.

    • JT191 said:

      “There is a shrine dedicated to the fox which is supposed to specialize in athletes”
      Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto. Known for fox statues and rows of tori gates that are so frequent and close together that the pathways are described as tori tunnels. There was a reference that this shrine specializes in sports, but that web page is gone. Other current web pages say that many of the tori gates were donated by sports teams. So there is something to this being a sports related shrine.

  4. Ben said:

    That’s too bad.

    “Sir, do you know how fast you were going?”

    “90 miles per hour, officer, but it’s okay. I have this traffic safety omamori!”

  5. Tyler said:

    Reminds me of the old world Catholic church selling relics. Regardless, a cool tidbit. Regarding JT’s comment, I believe cars are not made with a spirit, but can acquire one as the years pass. Rat rods and old junkyard finds probably have the most spirit of all cars.

  6. Kevin Lee said:

    i bought one from the peace temple in kyoto last year , i wonder if it would have any expiry date, certainly hope not!

  7. Ben said:

    The temple in Los Angeles has bins for last year’s omamori, so perhaps the warranty period is only one year.

    • JT191 said:

      Yes, you are supposed to turn in last year’s charm when you visit the temple or shrine in December, and purchase a new one for next year. Last year’s are to be burned by the priests. There was a culture/travel program on PBS (Burt Wolf?) that found humor in the income earned from the annual sales being very important to the temples and shrines and the seemingly arbitrary expiration of their effectiveness.
      By the way, this gets expensive once you have five or more cars to buy omamoris for, even without the annual burn and re-buy thing.