Seeking Good Fortune

by Neil Verwey

During examination times in Japan, prayers for success are seen hanging around on trees at many Shinto shrines. Students are seeking divine assistance to pass their tests and gain admission to the schools of their choice.

In addition a host of new good-luck items that symbolize resistance to failure are being snapped up in stores. A whole collection of goods have emerged that “protect” holders from tumbling into the abyss of defeat.

The most popular of these goods are stationery items, carrying logo’s which bring good luck. Stores are jam packed with high-school students about to take their entrance exams. “Failure-free” pencils and erasers are quickly sold out.

One item that is a symbol of tenacity is the Akita apple. In 1991 a devastating typhoon wreaked havoc on the apple crops of Japan. Only the apple orchards in Akita managed to survive with only minor loss. Area farmers commemorate the “apples that refused to fall” with an annual event. Then they also present apples inscribed with the words “prayer for a successful exam” to test-takers. Students will travel far to buy one of these apples, or even make sure of success by having the Akita apple symbol on a pencil or eraser.

Another “failure-free” charm is a train ticket, sold at Miyamoto Musashi Station. The station is named after the legendary swordsman, who never lost a duel in his life. After these tickets went on sale with the phrase “success with exams” printed on them, the station received a flood of orders and inquiries.
(Japanese news sources)

What length students will go to for a failure-free life! Why not pray to God?
Psalm 46:1
This verse does not say that God will help every one that calls on Him for good results with their examinations, especially if they did not study!

Nevertheless, how I wish I could help all the young people of Japan to understand that God is a tested help in times of real trouble.