5 LUCKY CHARMS IN CHINA
There are many Chinese symbols of good luck that are represented by objects and visuals, each having a strong purpose and significant meaning. Often used in the practice of feng shui, good luck symbols strengthen positive energy, rejuvenate stagnant energy and act as cures as they draw auspicious chi into the home or workplace.
One of the most popular Chinese symbols of good luck is the pinyin (official transcription system for converting Chinese characters to Latin script) characters for fu which represents good luck or good fortune.
Calligraphy Characters for Fu
The ancient Chinese tradition of hanging a fu symbol on the front door is still practiced during the Chinese Spring Festival and Chinese New Year. This practice began in 256 B.C. during the Zhou Dynasty to keep the Goddess of Poverty from visiting and residing in your home. Today, the symbol represents a year of good luck, prosperity and happiness.
Artists often draw fu symbols in black ink calligraphy on red paper to be hung in homes as a feng shui cure to attract positive energy. These beautiful good luck symbols are also popular on jewelry as charms and pendants.
2. Other Lucky Characters
Other Chinese characters representing good luck include:
Xi: Popular at Chinese weddings, this symbol represents double happiness and good luck.
He: This is a good luck symbol for harmonious relationships.
Ji: Give this symbol for good luck and a wish that all is well for a housewarming gift.
Lu: Prosperity, good fortune and wealth come with this character.
The Chinese dragon, considered the Supreme Being of all creatures, symbolizes good luck, success and protection. The Imperial Dragon fathered nine dragon sons. Ancient Chinese culture believed the emperor to be a direct descendant of the dragon.
You'll find the dragon motif throughout Chinese architecture, such as palaces, walls, bridges, temples and even household items such as china and serving bowls. Some dragon names are spelled differently depending on the region of the country, but they all retain the same properties. You can place any of the nine dragons in various sectors of your home to activate the specific chi energy the dragon represents.
Baxia (Bixi): The most commonly recognized symbol is the dragon tortoise (turtle dragon). He is powerful and strong and capable of bearing life's burdens. He brings long life of prosperity and strength.
Bi An (Bian): This dragon is a protector of the law and considered to be a fair judge. Use this auspicious symbol for any legal issues you may face.
Chi Wen (Chao Feng or Chiwen): This dragon governs water and is used on roofs to ensure protection against fire. Place one inside your home to protect against natural disasters such as floods.
Gongfu (Gong Fu): This water dragon god enjoys swimming in lakes and other bodies of water. He brings wealth to your home and protects you from floods and is often used on ships.
Pu Lao (Puloa): This dragon roars and rules over sounds.It is often used as a motif for temple bells. Place one on your desk to command authority.
Ch'iu niu (Quiniu) : The dragon god loves music and is the creative symbol often found carved onto musical instruments or as a relief motif.
Suan Ni (Suanni): The lion dragon of fire and smoke sits and watches over his kingdom. This dragon god bestows wisdom and great wealth to those who use this symbol.
Taotie (Tootie): If you need wealth, add a token of this food loving dragon with bronze and other metal bowls, plates, and other serving pieces. Many china patterns include an image of this dragon god.
Ya Zi (Yazi) : The protector dragon god is a fierce warrior and always victorious in war. This is a symbol for those in the military to wear as a median to imbues Yazi's energy
20 JAPANESE LUCKY ITEMS
Daruma are papier-mache dolls designed to look like a 6th monk known as Bodhidharma. They are traditionally sold with no eyes. You fill in one eye with a black marker when you set a goal and then fill in the other eye when you meet your goal.
2. Teru Teru Bozu
Teru Teru Bozu are simple ghost-like dolls crafted from white cloth or paper. They are thought to bring good weather if you hang them up at night. If you hang them upside down they bring rain. Teru Teru Bozu are popular amongst children before a school trip. In some cases, children hang them upside down in hopes a trip will be canceled.
Omikuji are paper fortunes that are sold at temples and shrines in Japan. Approximately half of Omikuji predict some level of bad luck. When this happens, it's customary to leave the fortune behind by tying it at a designated spot. A good fortune should be kept for a few months until you feel the luck has run out.
Ema are wooden wish boards available for purchase at Shinto shrines. They are related to an old custom of donating horses to shrines. You purchase an ema, write a wish on it and hang it at the shrine. It can be quite interesting to see people's wishes.
5. Maneki Neko
Maneki Neko are a good luck charm based on an old legend. They look like they are waving but in old Japan this was a beckoning gesture.
Ehomaki are a Setsubun tradition that can be translated "lucky direction sushi roll." The tradition involves eating an entire uncut thick sushi roll in silence while facing a lucky direction that changes every year. Ehomaki was originally an Osaka tradition but has spread nationwide because it's a fun thing to do on Setsubun.
7. Spiders in the Morning
According to Japanese superstition if you see a spider in the morning it's good luck and you shouldn't kill it. This can be a challenge anyway because Japanese spiders can be large, venomous and/or fast. Spiders appear in countless Japanese myths and tend to garner a fair amount of respect. It was traditionally believed that if a spider lives to 400 years of age it gains magical powers such as the ability to shapeshift into human form.
Koinobori are carp shaped streamers that are put up in April for Children's Day in May. This tradition is related to a Chinese legend about a carp who swims upstream to become a dragon. Koinobori are considered an auspicious symbol for the health of children. Millions of koinobori are put up beside rivers and in front of homes in Japan each Spring.
9. Tori No Ichi
Tori No Ichi is a market for rakes decorated with lucky items held on the days of the rooster in November. Buying a lucky rake is a long standing business custom in Japan. It's common to see price negotiations for a rake. When a deal is struck customer and seller perform a little hand clapping ritual together.
Akabeko are an old folk craft from Fukushima Prefecture. They are a traditional toy for children that are thought to have the power to prevent sickness. Akabeko are based on a story about a cow from the 9th century who helped to build Enzoji Temple. According to the story, the cow became a Buddha upon completion of the temple and turned to stone.
Senbazuru are string of 1000 origami cranes. It's said that anyone who finishes a string within a year will be granted a wish by a crane. The Japanese historically believed that cranes were powerful creatures who lived 1000 years.
Kurotamago, literally "black eggs", are eggs cooked in the Owakudani volcanic valley in Hakone. According to local folklore, eating one Kurotamago adds 7 years to your life, eating two adds 14 years and eating three is an extremely bad idea. This tradition has several variations and has helped to sell countless black eggs to visitors.
Japanese New Years is associated with dozens of lucky foods, decorations and rituals. For example, it's believed that your first dream of the year, known as Hatsuyume, has significance. It's considered particularly lucky to dream about an eggplant, a hawk or Mount Fuji.
Omamori, literally "protection", are sealed brocade bags with a blessing inside that are sold at shrines and temples in Japan. Different Omamori promise everything from a happy marriage to good grades. It's considered bad luck to open them to see what's inside the bag.
15. Hina Matsuri Dolls
Hina Matsuri, or Girls Day, is a celebration to hope for the health and happiness of girls in Japan. In the weeks before Girls Day, families with daughters put out a set of dolls that are generally thought to be good luck. In old Japan, it was believed that bad luck and sickness could be transferred from children into dolls. The dolls were then sent down a river or out to sea. This tradition, known as Doll Floating, is increasingly rare but is still observed at some shrines.
16. Kit Kat
Kit Kat is a popular brand of chocolate bar in Japan that has been produced in more than 400 flavors. The term Kit Kat has become a popular abbreviation for the phase "kitto katsu", meaning "a sure win." The red packaging of Kit Kat has also helped to add to Kit Kat's lucky image as red has always been considered an auspicious color in Japan. As such, packages of Kit Kat are considered a somewhat lucky item that are a popular gift for students at exam time.
Shisa are guardians of Okinawan mythology that resemble a cross between a lion and a dog. They are a common sight in the Okinawan Islands and are considered to have protective powers. Shisa are also the symbol of the islands that often have a lighthearted or comical design.
18. Seven Lucky Gods
The Seven Lucky Gods are a group of Japanese deities that are said to visit Japanese cities in a treasure boat on New Years. Each is a popular god who is thought to have the power to grant luck in areas such as wealth, love, happiness and fishing.
19. Okiagari Koboshi
Okiagari Koboshi are traditional Japanese papier-mache dolls that get back up if you push them down. They date back to the 14th century and have long been considered a symbol of resistance. It is common for shoppers to compare dolls by how fast they pop back up. Faster Okiagari Koboshi are considered more lucky.
Fukusasa are bamboo branches that are decorated with lucky symbols and sold to business people in January. The biggest such market at Imamiya Ebisu Shrine in Osaka attracts approximately 1 million people. The shrine brings in a large team of Miko to decorate the branches.
Chinese LUCKY CAT