maneki neko

Top 10 Symbols of Good Luck in Japan

What are some of the famous good luck symbols in Japan?

by Nora Yulieva

Japan has always been known to have diverse cultural traditions, including a strong belief in several good luck symbols. These symbols have been passed down from generation to generation in Japanese society, and now they are deeply rooted in the culture of Japan. Here are the Top 10 symbols of good luck in Japanese culture, from lucky animals to auspicious hues.

Maneki Neko (Japanese Good Luck Cat)

maneki neko

Photo: Katharine Crompton / Unsplash

The Maneki Neko, or the Japanese Good Luck Cat, is perhaps the most famous symbol of good luck in Japanese culture. It is known worldwide for its adorable and welcoming appearance. This cat statue is usually made of ceramic or plastic. It can be found in various sizes, ranging from tiny keychain charms to large outdoor decorations. The cat is typically depicted with one paw raised in the air as if it is beckoning for good fortune to come. The raised paw is also believed to represent beckoning customers, making it a popular symbol of good luck in Japanese businesses. This cat is considered to bring good luck and prosperity to its owner.

The Maneki Neko has a long history in Japan and is believed to have originated in the Edo period (1603-1868). There are many legends about the cat’s origin. Still, one of the most popular stories is about a cat who beckoned a samurai into a temple during a thunderstorm. The samurai took shelter in the temple and was saved from being struck by lightning. As a result, the cat became a symbol of good luck and protection.

Omamori (Japanese Good Luck Charm) 


Photo: Wikipedia

Omamori is a traditional Japanese good luck charm believed to bring good luck, protection, and success to its owner. These charms are usually sold at temples and shrines. They are made from various materials, including silk, cotton, and paper. The charms are often brightly colored and feature intricate designs and symbols. Read more about them here

Each omamori contains a small piece of paper with a prayer or blessing written on it. The paper is folded, enclosed in a small pouch, and tied with a string. The string is typically made of red and white thread, considered lucky colors in Japanese culture. Omamori can be carried in a purse or wallet, hung on a keychain, or worn around the neck.

Daruma Doll (Japanese Good Luck Doll) 

daruma doll

Photo: Van Peng / Unsplash

The Daruma Doll is a traditional Japanese doll often used to symbolize good luck and perseverance. The doll is typically made of papier-mâché or wood and is painted red with a white face. The doll is rounded, hollow, and designed to be tipped over without falling down.

When someone sets a goal, they color in one of the doll’s eyes. The doll is then placed in a prominent location, serving as a reminder of the goal. When the goal is achieved, the other eye is colored in, symbolizing the completion of the plan. The Daruma Doll is often used in business settings to symbolize determination and success. It’s a very famous luck symbol in Japanese culture.

Lucky Colors (Japanese Colors of Good Luck)


Photo: Robert Katzki / Unsplash

In Japanese culture, certain colors are considered lucky and are associated with different meanings. Red is considered lucky because it is believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune. It is often used in weddings, as well as in New Year’s decorations. Gold is also considered lucky because it represents wealth and prosperity. It is often used in business settings, as well as in religious ceremonies.

White is considered lucky because it is associated with purity and cleanliness. It is often used in wedding ceremonies, as well as in funeral rituals. Black is also considered lucky in Japanese culture, as it is believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. It is often used in clothing, accessories, and traditional Japanese calligraphy.

Crane (Japanese Good Luck Bird)


Photo: Sammy Wong / Unsplash

The crane is a bird deeply respected in Japanese culture for its elegance, grace, and long lifespan. In Japanese folklore, the crane is believed to live for a thousand years, symbolizing longevity and good fortune. In addition, folding origami cranes is a popular Japanese tradition believed to bring good luck and prosperity. It is said that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, your wish will come true. As a result, many people in Japan habitually fold origami cranes to bring good luck to their lives. It’s an amazing symbol of luck in Japan.

Shinto Torii Gate (Japanese Good Luck Gate)

Shinto Torii

Photo: Gio Almonte / Unsplash

The Shinto Torii Gate is a traditional Japanese gate often found at Shinto shrines’ entrances. It is believed to mark the transition from the mundane world to the sacred world and to protect against evil spirits. The torii gate is typically made of wood or stone. It is often painted in bright vermilion, considered a lucky color in Japan. Additionally, the torii gate is decorated with various symbols of good luck, including shimenawa ropes.

Hamsa Hand (Japanese Good Luck Hand)

Hamsa hand

Photo: Ripley Elisabeth Brown / Unsplash

The Hamsa Hand is a hand-shaped symbol believed to protect against the evil eye and bring good luck, happiness, and success to its owner. It is often used as a pendant or charm and is sometimes seen in Japanese culture. The Hamsa Hand is said to represent the hand of God and is associated with many religious beliefs. In Japan, it is often used as a decorative element in jewelry, clothing, and home decor.

Koi Fish (Japanese Good Luck Fish)

koi fish

Photo: Worachat Sodsri / Unsplash

The koi fish symbolizes good fortune and prosperity in Japanese culture. It is believed that if a koi fish swims upstream, it will transform into a dragon, symbolizing power and prosperity. In addition to this, koi fish are often associated with perseverance and overcoming adversity. In Japanese gardens and ponds, koi fish are usually kept as decoration and are believed to bring good luck and wealth to their owners.

Japanese Good Luck Saying


Photo: Kevin Anggrek / Unsplash

Japanese culture has many sayings and idioms related to good luck and success. One of the most popular is “ganbaru”, which means persevering and never giving up. This saying is often used to encourage people to keep going in the face of adversity and believe in their ability to succeed. Another popular saying is “kachin, kachin”, the sound of coins hitting each other, and is used to wish someone good luck in making money or winning a prize.

Japanese Good Luck Drama

watching tv

Photo: Unsplash+

Japanese dramas are a popular form of entertainment that often feature stories of people who overcome significant obstacles and achieve success against all odds. These dramas are a source of inspiration and hope for many people in Japan, who see them as a symbol of good luck and perseverance. The themes of these dramas often revolve around love, family, and personal growth, and they are known for their heartwarming and emotional stories. 

Many people in Japan watch these dramas as a way to relax, unwind, and find inspiration in their own lives.

In conclusion, we would like to say that Japan is a nation with a rich cultural heritage, including its belief in various lucky emblems. These symbols, which range from the Maneki Neko and Omamori to the Seven Lucky Gods and Koi Fish, are profoundly ingrained in Japanese society and are thought to bestow luck and pleasure on their proprietors. These symbols provide a window into the rich customs of this intriguing nation, whether you are searching for a good luck charm or are just curious about Japanese culture.

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