Japanese New Year is the season of Omikuji – random fortunes written on strips of paper thatÂ tell youÂ whether the new year will be a good one or not. Many Japanese people are superstitious and believe in fortune tellers such as Kazuko Hosoki,Â and lucky charms called Omamori.
For many years, my favorite Japanese lucky charm was the faceless baby monkey, Sarubobo, from Takayama. That was until Utsunomiya Zoo in Tochigi prefecture recently started making lucky charms out of elephant poo. According to the Mainichi newspaper, these Omamori are made “by extracting fiber from the dung of a 36-year-old Asian elephant, then sterilizing it and processing it into paper”.
Elephant poo helps you get into university
These elephant dung charms are given away free to students preparing for university entrance exams, and have the Japanese for “pass” written on them in red characters. While students might be rushing to the zoo to get their poo charms, the rest of the population would probably prefer to “pass” up this offer 😉
Scientifically proven to boost your grades?
Zookeeper Ayako Nakamura is responsible for this stroke of marketing genius.Â Even if these lucky charms don’t bring any benefit whatsoever, at least they have been popular with visitors, with many of them describing the poo as “cute”. There’s no such thing as science when it comes to luck. However, even without proof that these things bring you better grades,Â I’d stillÂ want some elephant poo in my pocket if I were taking exams.If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!