What is Ema, or picture tablet?

Ema are wooden votive picture tablets which are found in shrines or temples in Japan. People write their wishes and dreams on the back of “Ema” and hang them in the designated area in the precincts of shrines or temples.

People originally donated living horses.

       Front of Ema has picture.           Back of Ema.


Ema literally means “picture of horse” and many Ema have horse pictures on them. This is because people originally donated living horses in the old days, but later it became so difficult that people started donating wooden stable-shaped tablets on which the horse pictures were written.

Horses have been considered as messengers of Deities from the ancient days. Some famous shrines still have real horses as sacred horses in their precincts.

Variety of designed Ema are popular these days.

Nowadays Ema have a variety of shapes and pictures such as anime characters and local products. It is fun for us to see such special designed Ema in each shrine.


 My tips ! 
To donate Ema, it usually cost you about 500 yen to 1000 yen. (To get Ema and good luck charms in shrines or temples are considered as a kind of donation.) So why don’t you try hanging your wish and take a photo of it? It might be a good memento!


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A national government licensed tour guide in English loves to introduce Japanese life with unique photos📸. Mainly Tokyo🇯🇵 and surroundings.

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