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At Shinto shrines throughout Japan, omikuji (御御籤, literally “sacred lottery”) are received for making a small offering.  The omikuji is a piece of paper containing a random fortune — either good or bad.  It is customary that when one receives a bad fortune, he or she folds the fortune into a strip and ties it to a pine tree or rope.  The origin of this custom is the word matsu, which means both “pine tree” and “to wait”, so the bad luck shall wait at the pine tree rather than following its bearer home.

Photographed at Tōshō-gū Shrine, Nikkō, Japan.