This is an Ema, a Japanese wooden wishing plaque. You usually buy those at Shinto shrines, write a wish on the back and hang it up at a dedicated space. This one we bought beginning of 2016 – the zodiac year of the monkey – at a shrine close to Ueno Park. We liked the design so much that we took the plaque home with us, wrote our wish on the back and hung it on one of the trees in our garden.Later I read that those plaques are removed and ritually burned by Hatsumode (time of first shrine visit in the New Year). I also read that good luck items can be returned to the shrines to be disposed appropriately. Superstitious as I am I panicked as ‘the deadline’ had already passed and we hadn’t returned it. I could see bad luck falling upon us any minute for not following the rules. For a long time the plaque was sitting at our front door as I was serious about returning it to the shrine.
Needless to say, I never went. After months of the plaque just lying in a big pile, waiting for its correct disposal, I decided to say goodbye to it the easy way. So far we haven’t run out of luck.