EMA, Wooden votive tablets

Visitors offer up prayers for fortune through use of votive tablets known as “Ema” at temple or shrine. We write wishes on tablet and hang them on the designated rack. Many students write the name of university or high school they want to pass.

Ema 絵馬 means picture and horse. In ancient Japan people dedicated horses alive to temples and shrines. Today ema designs are not limited to horses, and often have a picture of the year’s eto or zodiacal animal. The system of associating a different animal with each year is a 12 year cycle came from China. In Japan the animals are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and boar.