Tokyobling's Blog

Ema Votive Plates from Around Japan

Posted in Japanese Traditions, Places by tokyobling on January 5, 2012

One of the fun things to do at New Year’s in Tokyo is to visit Yasukuni shrine and check out their gallery of ema (votive plates) gathered from all major shrines around the country, there are hundreds of them! Recently (I think) they have also started displaying the labels of Japanese sake (rice wine) makers, dozens of them. There is such a huge variety in ema, some are traditional and rarely change over the years others have a new design every year, mostly in accordance with the zodiac sign of the year. Not all ema have the same size and not all are made by wood. There are big ones and small ones, metal, wood, plastic and even glass ema. To see so many different ema you’d have to spend a fortune to travel around Japan but here it is all conveniently gathered in one spot for all to see. Here’s a token few that I photographed, out of the hundreds on display. If you’re very curious about where they are from the file name of the photo gives the prefecture: there’s ema from Aichi, Saga, Iwate, Tochigi, Kagoshima and a couple from Hyogo and Wakayama each.


10 Responses

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  1. andy1076 said, on January 5, 2012 at 5:00 am

    So incredible details 🙂


    • tokyobling said, on January 5, 2012 at 7:07 am

      Thank you Andy! (^-^)


  2. Timi said, on January 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    They look really nice! My favourite is the owl-one 😀


    • tokyobling said, on January 6, 2012 at 12:07 am

      Thanks Timi! Yes, it is a ema dedicated to success in studying. It’s a play of words…


  3. pk1154 said, on January 5, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    My favorites are the whiskery “old man” dragon from Iwate and the elegant flowers from Aichi, but the scholarly owl is very charming.


  4. Lili said, on January 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    So beautiful!
    I’m in love with ema … 🙂
    So sad I didn’t think to bring back at least one as a souvenir 😦
    Next time 😉


  5. kes said, on January 8, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    One word: beautifull 🙂


    • tokyobling said, on January 10, 2012 at 12:22 am

      Aren’t they? Thank you for the kind comment Kes!


  6. zoomingjapan said, on January 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Hohoho. I already bought my bunch of emas for this year. Not all of them have a dragon on them, but a few.
    I never use them the “traditional” way, but take them home as a souvenir, ahem. Together with lucky charms and a “shuin” (seal) if it’s a bigger / famous shrine / temple 🙂



    • tokyobling said, on January 10, 2012 at 12:27 am

      That’s a good idea! Some day you will have a great collection! (^-^) I made a killing on shuin this year, four in one evening, all of them the first one for me. Happy New Year to you too!


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