While the Japanese are known to be secular or atheist, at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples you'll often see people dropping coins in an offering box and praying (albeit briefly). Another ritual at these sites is to get a fortune, or omikuji. At the Akasuka Temple in Tokyo, you deposit 100 yen in a slot, pick up a metal cylinder, shake it, and a stick falls out with a number on it. You then go to a drawer with the matching number and pull out your fortune. Just like a cookie, right? Um, not quite. Here's what we got.
Ouch! I was hoping bad fortune would lack, but it's just bad luck. As if all those awful things are not enough, they throw in the last line: 'Everything will come out to be bad, so you should be patient.' Patient for what? Death? But apparently this is only one level of curse, and not even the worst one. Only after getting home and reading up on omikuji did I realize that you're supposed to tie the paper in a knot around a tree (or special wooden rack at the shrine) to deflect your bad luck away from you and to the tree. Guess I'm going back!