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Good luck hand-me-down

April 2, 2013

先日ランドリーで洗濯物を受け取ったある男性が、
「君は日本出身だったよね?」と聞いてきた。
そしてなんとなくしかわからなかったけど恐らく、
日本のお土産をもらったが何かよくわからないので、
今度持って来るから何か教えてくれ、と言われた。

そうしたら数日後にあたる今日、本当にもってきた。
彼の手元には二つのお守り。
一つは典型的なお守りで前には神社名(忘れちゃったけど)、
そして裏には「婦」と書いてあった。
もう一つは小さな絵馬で、「安産祈願」と書いてあった。

なのでまずお守りであることを説明し
(と言ってもヘブライ語では到底無理なので英語で
「good luck charm」と訳してしまったけど、これもちょっと違う気がする)
恐らく「婦」と書いてあるものは女性用(?これも不確か)、
そして「安産祈願」の意味も説明した。

そうしたら彼は笑いながら、
「娘にあげようと思っても、彼女は僕の知ってる限り妊娠してないし、、、」と言い、
突然、「じゃあ君にあげよう!」と言った。
「私も妊娠してないよ、」と伝えたが、「今後のために」と強引に渡されてしまった。

昔仕事で海外から来日中のお客さんを明治神宮に連れて行った時、
お守りがすごく気に入ってたくさん買い込んでいた人がいたのを思い出した。
確かにきれいだし、かわいいし、いいお土産になるのだろう。
でもそれが「合格祈願」であろうが「安産祈願」であろうが
「交通安全」であろうが関係なく、その人は完全に柄や色で選んでいた。
恐らく今日の男性の友達もそのようにしてお守りを買ってきたのだろう。

私はとっさにお守りを神社へいずれお返ししなくてはならないことを考え、
この「好意」をちょっと重く感じてしまったのだけれど、
このような複雑なことを説明するのはなかなか難しいことだ。
この心理は日本人にしかわからないことかも?

今日はこのちょっとした不思議な事件から始まったのだった。

A kibbutz member who was dropping off his laundry the other day asked me, “You are from Japan, right?” When I confirmed, he went on to tell me what I loosely understood as, a friend brought him some gifts from Japan but he doesn’t know what they are, and he wants me to look at them.

Only a few days later today, he actually brought the gifts. In his hands were two omamori, something I described as “good luck charms” in English, but that didn’t quite feel right. Wikipedia defines it as Japanese amulets (charms, talismans) commonly sold at religious sites and dedicated to particular Shinto deities as well as Buddhist figures, and may serve to provide various forms of luck or protection.

One omamori was what I consider the most standard with the shrine name in the front. In the back was the symbol for “woman” or “wife”, which I have never seen before. The other one was a miniature ema with wishes for an easy labor.

So I explained this to him and upon hearing “easy labor” he laughed and said, “Well, I thought of giving it to my daughter but she is not pregnant, at least to my knowledge…” and then suddenly, “Maybe you should have it!” I quickly replied that I’m not pregnant either, but with his mind apparently set he insisted I take it, for when I will need it.

This reminded me of a time when I was working in Tokyo and took some clients to the famous Meiji Shrine in Harajuku. One of them fell for the omamori hard and bought a ton of them. But whether they were for “doing well in school entrance exams” or “easy pregnancy” or “safety on the road” obviously did not matter to her; she was choosing solely based on the design, colors, fabric patterns. I imagine the friend of the kibbutz member also bought the omamoris that way.

But to me, a omamori is not simply just a “good luck charm”. I am not religious by any means but I still feel a responsibility when owning a omamori; to treat it well and with respect, and if and when the time comes to bid farewell to it I couldn’t possibly just throw it in the trash. I would want to take it back to the shrine it came from, which is the proper way from my knowledge.

So, this random act of kindness of the kibbutz member actually came with a bit of weight, a complicated weight that is hard to explain. Maybe the kind of weight that can only truly be understood by the Japanese? I don’t know.

This unusual incident was what started my otherwise pretty usual day.

Much love,
Kaori

2 Comments leave one →
  1. praisethelorne permalink
    April 3, 2013 4:23 am

    Any chance you can translate? Google Translate did not do a good job!

    • April 3, 2013 3:56 pm

      Hey Lorne! I fear how Google Translate interpreted my story🙂 I’ve now updated the post with translation, and my intention is to make all my future posts bilingual. I’m still learning to manage my time (and lazy butt) in order to just that.

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