Sunday, August 4, 2013


 With people like Joan R. Ginther running around Texas winning four (yes, four) multi-million-dollar lotto jackpots, one can’t help but wonder how to get in on the action. So we sought out a few charmed Asian destinations to visit that might just bring the good fortune you're in search of; and if you're really lucky, some once-in-a-lifetime memories to boot.

 Fushimi Inari Taisha is an ancient Shinto shrine to the god of rice, Inari, who is worshiped by merchants and manufacturers for wealth and prosperity. It is said that those who donate a torii (traditional Japanese gate) will be successful in their business endeavors. Even if you prefer to make your own luck, and skip the offering, the shrine is still a beautiful place to visit. The trails wind into stunning Mount Inari, which is considered part of the shrine and attracts foreign hikers every year. The site features thousands of orange and black torii gates, each with the name of the donor and the date the donation was made. Currently, the price for one gate ranges from 400,000 yen (approx. $4,275) to 1 million yen (approx. $10,707). 
Let's hope Inari can help you get a return on the investment.
 According to Frommer’s, the Erawan Shrine was designed to protect construction workers during the building of the Grand Hyatt Erawan in 1956. The start of the project, which was rumored to be on an unfavorable date, was delayed by a series of mysterious calamities and deaths. In an attempt to keep his rural staff coming to work, the hotel contractor erected a shrine to Brahma (the Hindu god of creation). After the shrine was put up, the deaths stopped and the hotel became a prosperous destination. It is highly revered to bring good fortune and protection, as is evidenced by the number of locals and tourists who frequent the location, light incense, and pray around it each day. There are even dedicated dancers who can be seen performing around the shrine barefoot for six hours straight every other day.
 Another site dedicated to commercial success is Imamiya-Ebisu Jinja Shrine in Osaka. It is visited by a million people each year hoping to get their portion of good health and happiness from the Japanese lucky god of business and fishery. Visitors to the shrine, during the Toka Ebisu Festival from January 9-11, have the option of purchasing a bamboo branch that has been decorated with symbols of good fortune, like gold coins, sea bream and rice bales in order to further increase their chances of making it big. So the next time you are in Osaka for business, we suggest you drop by the Imamiya-Ebisu Jinja and grab yourself a decorated bamboo branch to make sure the fates will lean in your favor...financially speaking.
 Luang Prabang, a city in north central Laos which was named after a famed Buddha image from Cambodia, is full of temples and monasteries. Legend has it that Buddha rested there for a few days during his travels, predicting that the town would one day be a commanding and affluent capital city. And what do you know, by 13th century A.D., after being smiled on by Buddha himself, Luang Prabang did in fact became a powerful kingdom in Lan Xang. An UNESCO World Heritage Site, Luang Prabang, in its prime location on the Silk Road, is a stunning piece of Laos’ and Asia’s prosperous history of trade and religion; and who knows, maybe some of its luck will rub off on you.
 Huanglong, Sichuan is directly translated to mean yellow dragon, which is a lucky being in traditional Chinese folklore and the most powerful of the Chinese Zodiac. Huanglong is set in the Min Shan Mountain Range and offers alluring natural attractions like glaciers and hotsprings, as well as the beloved and mysterious Huanglong Temple. The region is also home to the golden Sichuan snub-nosed monkey, whose fur has been long believed by locals to ward off rheumatism. Turns out, the health benefits didn’t do any good for the species itself, as they were used as fortuitous coats by Manchurian officials and are now endangered. If those furry little lucky charms aren't enticing to you however, Huanglong is also home to Giant Pandas, the national treasure of China.
 The Wong Tai Sin Temple is a place where travelers from all over the world flock to pray to its namesake Wong Tai Sin—a famous monk born in the 4th century who later became a diety—in hopes of receiving good fortune and divine guidance. It is said to ‘make every wish come true upon request,’ which if you're Taoist, Buddhist or Confucianist, should come easy as the temple is home to all three religious beliefs. The elaborate shrine contains different parts symbolizing the five elements: the Earth Wall for earth; the Bronze Pavilion for metal; the Yuk Yik Fountain for water; the Archives Hall for wood; and the Yue Heung Shrine for fire.
 Hong Kong is also home to the Big Buddha. The towering Tian Tan statue of Buddha sits 111 feet high and can be reached after only after hiking up 268 steps. The bronze Buddha was positioned to face north toward Mainland China, looking over the people and offering blessings from its massive, raised right hand. Below the statue are three floors: The Hall of Universe, The Hall of Benevolent Merit, and The Hall of Remembrance. It is here that visitors can pay to leave an offering with the alleged cremated remains of Gautama Buddha, the actual founder of Buddhism. If hanging out with the potential remnants of Buddha himself doesn't change your fate, you might just be out of luck.

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