To make up for the comic drought of the last week, I present you with this veritable flood of comics about Omamori! Typically purchased in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples during festivals, Omamori charms are usually dedicated to religious figures or deities and are said to offer everything from help passing exams to assistance in relationships. Most of these charms and talismans offer some kind of luck or protection to their owner. Personally, I think learning to count cards or owning some kind of weapon (for dealing with dangerous characters or when casino security attempts to beat you for counting cards) is a much more practical solution to these problems. But hey, I guess a paper charm is just as good.

Omamori are a popular item in Japan during festival seasons. They are created at temples and shrines throughout the country and blessed through ritual to gain the protection or notice of particular deities or other religious figures to aid the owner. Omamori are usually fairly cheap, but with the large volume of people passing through each year to refresh their amulets, you can imagine the kind of cash flow worship sites can bring in. Looks like those wealth charms really do work!

While many trinkets offer blanket protections or luck, there are plenty that grant much more specific enhancements to their owners’ lifestyles. As mentioned above, charms for help passing difficult exams are wildly popular with students dealing with the competitive education scene in Japan but many young girls also flock to charms that help them find boyfriends or attract the notice of the opposite sex. Adults may purchase Omamori that grant prosperity in business, bring safety and well-being to their families, or even protection for pregnant women. These charms are typically replaced once a year, often returned to the shrine or temple from where they were bought where they can be burned as a sign of respect to the deity or figure tied to the item.

Omamori are so popular and so deeply ingrained in Japanese society that even corporations have taken notice, producing their own versions of Omamori that feature popular characters or slogans to be sold in stores and shopping malls. While a Mickey Mouse or Hello Kitty Omamori may be a fun thing to own, they aren’t thought to confer any spiritual benefits to the wearer. Somehow the image of Domo-Kun battling on some spiritual plane of existence to aid a lonely Japanese girl in her struggle to find true love just doesn’t seem to work…

Or does it work too well?

Let me pitch this to a few television networks then get back to you.

Personally, I find the selection offered by these temples and shrines to be underwhelming at best. Sure, we could all use protection from evil, but why not get wild with it? Charms that would help one become a cowboy, for instance, could be incredibly interesting for a short period of time. Perhaps making amulets that deter stinging fish for folks living in or visitng Tropical islands would be a good idea? How about a charm that makes it so that no matter where I buy my orange juice, it always tastes sweet instead of having to purchase orange juice and find out too late that it is bitter for seemingly no reason? Where is my charm for that? Bitter orange juice ruins my day and some spirit should be there to watch my back. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

The market is a lot more diverse than these priests might think and people need protection from all sorts of things, that’s all I’m saying.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed the extra comics, I do enjoy working in batches like this every now and again. Now if I could just find a charm to help ease the tension of clinging to my pen in my classic comic-drawing death grip, I’d be all set.

Until then, I will just have to ask Hello Kitty for her assistance in securing me fame and fortune from the spirit world.

For the good of my soul, of course.