On my trip to Japan last week I visited quite a few shrines and temples around Kyoto and was enchanted by the use of paper and wood for recording wishes, prayers and fortunes.
Omikuji are fortune telling paper slips found at many shrines and temples. Randomly drawn, they contain predictions ranging from daikichi ("great good luck") to daikyo ("great bad luck"). By folding the piece of paper and knotting it around a tree's branch, good fortune will come true, or bad fortune can be averted.
I was delighted at the Heian Shrine to discover that what I thought from the distance to be pink blossom, was in fact paper fortunes tied to branches.
A shimenawa is a straw rope with white zigzag paper strips (gohei). It marks the boundary to something sacred and can be found on torii gates, around sacred trees and stones, etc.
Here are some I spotted on my travels.
Apparently an ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury. The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy beasts (others include the dragon and tortoise), and is said to live for a thousand years.
I spotted these at the Fushimi Inari Shrine.
I think I'd better get folding .....