Tokyo Stories from Curious Outsiders

013 : Daphné Haour at Asakusa Temple, Taito-ku
Born in the 20th Century in France, Daphné Haour currently works as a blogger and photographer. She came to Japan on a long-term resident visa. Why Japan? To follow her hubby who works here. She digs the following Tokyo bits: the security, quality of life, and the vending machines. She, however, is a touch miffed by sometimes taking the express train by mistake and ending up in an apple orchard in the countryside (sounds like fun to us!). For more info on Daphné Haour you should send an email or visit Travelling Cam.

image: Masaomi

“I saw them drawing bamboo sticks from a silver rectangular box.”

I watched the Japanese waving incense smoke on their faces, ringing the temple bell, tossing coins in the wooden chest, clapping their hands twice. Then I saw them drawing bamboo sticks from a silver rectangular box. What was that all about?

I looked around for someone likely to speak English and approached a young man in a T-shirt with a backpack slung over one shoulder. He looked like a university student. He told me that the sticks were a sort of sacred lottery where people could find out about their future through a message from the gods. I paid my ¥100, drew out my bamboo straw, then went to the drawer designated on the straw to find my fortune, which was written on a small strip of paper [1]. The young man translated it for me.

He told me that all my dreams will come true, that I will have children, and if I study, I will pass the entrance exams. He went on to say that I will have a boyfriend if I’m not too demanding. I frowned, which did not go unnoticed by my translator. Four of the predictions had already happened. What about the fifth? Will my dreams really come true?

He then said in halting but good English that if I considered my lot in life a misfortune, I should tie the paper to a tree [2] so that bad luck wouldn’t follow me home.

That’s OK, I replied, there was nothing in it that was unfortunate; only that I could dream of winning the jumbo lottery. Do you think that will come true? I asked.

He gave me a broad smile before turning to go. I could hear him chuckling as he walked away.

As I watched his receding back, I wondered if most Japanese believe in these messages from their gods.

referenced works

  1. These strips of paper, which are found at both Bhuddhist temples and Shinto shrines, are called "omikuji."
  2. In the film "Lost in Translation," this is what the character Charlotte does while visiting a Kyoto temple.

location information

  • Name: Asakusa Temple
  • Address: Taito-ku Asakusa 2-3-1
  • Time of story: early morning
  • Latitude: 35.714501
  • Longitude: 139.796718
  • Map: Google Maps


  1. Daphne Haour [1] thinks: The title of this piece was: The Sacred Lottery of Life, and it refers to the drawing of straws from the metal can, which foretells your lot in life. The “lottery” emphasis is on the drawing of straws, and not the winning in a jumbo lottery.


019She laughed at my effort and responded in English, ‘Long time, no seduction.’ — Qi Rari

018In my dreamy state, oblivious to signs and announcements I often boarded the wrong train.— Momus (aka Nick Currie)

017I was fifteen years old and it was one of those nights.— Yuko Enomoto

016That ear of corn just wanted to go home— Guttersnipe Das

015With his painstakingly coiffured mane blowing in the wind— Digits Wolfowitz

014Her voice, even across languages, betraying her worry.— Olly Denton

013I saw them drawing bamboo sticks from a silver rectangular box.— Daphné Haour

012A simulacrum of someone else's home, equal parts comfort and loss.— Adam Greenfield

011Jumbled Escheresque insanity where geo­graphy in any traditional sense ceases to exist.— Joseph Badtke-Berkow

010I could hardly make out anything apart from his glowing eyes...— Uleshka

009Shibuya was like a stroke.— Alice.d

008I cried for a while and wiped the dead bracken off my karate pants.— David Cady

007Both my tie and my disposition hang limp as I calculate the remaining distance to the station.— Chris Tobber

006I once read about a Chinese maiden whose feet were unbound by a cruel man …— Claire Tanaka

005The Bad Girl strutted off and I was left with a ham egg pie.— Guttersnipe Das

004I arrived expecting an irritated Japanese person to step out of the crowd and identify himself as Hideki.— Ashley Rawlings

003The woman at the ticket window seemed surprised to see another human being. I was the only visitor.— Andrew Douglas

002Flanked on either side by adult manga shops and the like, the smell of yakitori in the air.— Jean Snow

001For two weeks the day began with this morning walk, our shared routine.— Joseph Squier


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