What is a Tenugui & Omamori?

Traditional Japan: Tenugui and Omamori

In July’s Summer Matsuri themed Doki Doki crate, we featured a few kawaii-takes on traditional Japanese summer items. The tenugui and omamori have a long history in Japan and both these items can be found in most Japanese homes. Let’s learn more!

Tenugui (手拭い)

Although tenugui is used more for decorative purposes these days, it’s original use was as a towel! Before the introduction of terry cloth material in Japan, people used thin cotton as washcloths, towels, and dishcloths. Labor workers also used these strips of cloth as a bandana to keep sweat out of their eyes.

In modern times, tenugui is a popular souvenir and can be used a multitude of ways! It can be used to wrap a gift, as a placemat or table runner, or can be hung from wooden dowels as a display. During festivals, it’s still used as a headband and come in prints with kanji lettering and summer motifs.

Here are some ways that we use tenugui at the Japan Crate office!

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Did you get any fun ideas on how to use your tenugui? Let us know in the comments below!

Omamori (お守り)

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Nearly 80% of the Japanese population practice the religion of Shinto. Shintoism has been around since the 8th century and has helped keep Japanese traditions alive with the belief that religious
rituals will keep the present and the past connected. It’s become such a large part of Japanese culture that many people do not even feel that it’s religion but rather a way of life!

While there are several large temples all around Japan, there are also smaller shrines in neighborhoods. Residents often stop by to give a quick bow to pay their respects and to pray for good day. Japanese people can be quite superstitious so it’s not uncommon to find statues or calligraphy banners in homes and establishments to help ward off evil spirits and to invite good luck. You may find little good luck charms hanging from bags and cell phones as well.

When you visit a shrine in Japan, you can find a vast variety of little silk bags called omamori. Oma
mori are special amulets and each one can bring a different type of luck! There are ones for studying, to ward off evil, to bring love, for traffic safety, for a successful business; the list goes on! The omamori in July’s Doki Doki crate will bring you good luck and happiness.

Omamori isn’t the only way to carry luck with you every day. You can also find charms that come in shapes of animals, Shinto deities, or objects that are considered lucky in Japan. We included a small frog that is supposed to ensure safe travels! The most famous animal charm is the maneki-neko, or “beckoning cat”, which can be found at many businesses. There are many folktales about the origin of this cat, but the common belief is that the cat “beckons” good luck to it’s owner.

It’s considered taboo to open an omamori as it will release all of the good luck sealed inside and it’s ok to let it get a little worn and dirty. They say that the more beat up the omamori is, the more it shows how it has protected you!
3 Comments
  1. I’m definitely going to put the omamori on my phone chain now and I really liked the cute little design with all the Doki Doki Crate characters on it <3 And if each omamori brings a different kind of luck, what kind of luck does the Doki Doki Crate one bring? Also, I might use my tenugui like the second design on the very first picture (rolled up tenugui around my head like a bandana) and maybe I'll wrap it around my water bottle too ^3^

    1. I think they said that the omamori in the Doki Doki crate brings you good luck and happiness.

  2. I have an omamori dangling from my SCION Xb rear view mirror.. It has kept me accident free since I bought it in 2012 and just rolled over 100k miles.
    I’ll “DEFINITELY” say it’s “LUCKY”!
    I love the one in my crate…very personable and cute. As a matter a fact, I think this may be the “BEST” box yet!