• Kyodo

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Many shrines and temples in Japan sell amulets for good health, but a shrine in Okayama Prefecture is famous for offering more than 50 varieties of charms for different parts of the body or symptoms.

The unique amulets offered at Nihon Daiichi Kumano Shrine are the brainchild of the shrine’s 74-year-old chief priest Mitsuyuki Sato, who has a history of heart and liver disease.

“We have more categories than (departments) in a general hospital,” Sato said. “I hope the amulets give people hope to get well.”

The shrine started to sell the specialized amulets around 2007. With many visitors to the shrine praying for good health, Sato first introduced amulets for the liver, lung, heart, kidney, and spleen after talking to worshippers and workers at medical facilities.

Sato came up with the idea of a synapse amulet when he took a dementia test and heard from his doctor that “synapses connect brain cells.”

The synapse amulet, launched in 2019, has proved popular not only among people suffering from dementia and those hoping to protect against it but with parents wishing academic success for their children, Sato said. “I guess they are praying for a good memory.”

The amulets for the parts of the body cost ¥600 each.

Since late April, when the novel coronavirus surged in Japan, the shrine has given away around 20,000 paper amulets to dispel the pandemic. It also plans to launch new amulets by January to protect nails and wish for stable cholesterol levels.

“I hope people worrying about their health can start the New Year in a positive mood,” Sato said. He aims to increase the number of amulets to 108, the same number as the states of mind believed to cause suffering in Buddhism.

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