In Japan, New Year's isn't just about the dropping of the ball. It's the turning of a new leaf, and with it come numerous traditions from fortune telling to warding off evil spirits and drawing cute anime girls on wooden plaques... Wait, what?

The notorious "ita-ema" (痛絵馬) are back again this year in full force at the Kanda Shrine near Japan's geek mecca, Akihabara. Japanese blog Hachima Kikou collected pictures of the various ita-ema at the shrine from around the twitter-sphere.

What is usually a custom for writing wishes and requests to the Shinto gods, like prayer notes in the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, in the recent years, ita-ema have evolved (devolved?) into artists and geeks simply writing down random messages. One elaborate ita-ema even had a relief of Shimakaze from Kan Colle, showing some of the creative and funny ways people express their hope for good fortune, good health, and general geekdom.

I should go put one up...

【野生のプロ】今年も大量!痛絵馬まとめ 『ラブライブ!』や『艦これ』、『けいおん!』3期希望! など [はちま起稿]

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.


To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @tnakamura8.