Also known as:

Otafuku; Ofuku; Mrs. Daruma

The dance of Uzume, the shamanic strip-teaser who rescued Earth, is the prototype for Japanese shamanic dance. Daughters of provincial aristocrats were once sent to Kyoto where they were trained to dance and perform sacred rituals. Traveling through Japan in performing troupes, they eventually became the sacred ancestors of Noh, Kyogen, and Kabuki theater. Masks of Uzume were incorporated. Uzume eventually evolved into Okame.

The names Okame and Otafuku are used interchangeably:

• Okame means “tortoise”, symbolic of longevity.

• Otafuku means “abundant good fortune.”

Okame is a goddess of good fortune:

• She transforms bad luck to the best luck.

• Okame brings victory and success.

• Okame bestows fertility and banishes evil people, spirits, and ghosts.

• Okame protects children and provides domestic happiness.

Her image could be placed beside the dictionary definition of good: Okame is good-natured, good-humored, good-hearted, generous, kind, serene, and patient. She doesn’t possess a mean bone in her body, although she is smart, strong-willed, and competent. She is not naïve but powerful, capable of shooing away evil spirits as if they were little pesky flies. She is considered the epitome of the ideal wife.

As with Daruma, Nang Kwak, and Maneki Neko, Okame’s blessings are accessed via her images. Her face and image are ubiquitous in Japan, ornamenting the sacred and mundane. She appears as masks, statues, and amulets but also on textiles, folk art, clothing, and commercial advertising. There’s even candy made in her image. Okame’s face is incorporated into Japanese Kumade (“Bear Paw”) amulets: bamboo rakes that gather good luck and prosperity. Amy Katoh’s Otafuku: Joy of Japan (Tuttle Publishing, 2005), a meditation on Okame, contains over one hundred photos of Okame images.

Hang three Okame masks in the home to receive blessings of peace, happiness, luck, and the arrival of only welcome guests. Place one by the entrance, one in the living room, and the third in the kitchen.

Okame may look like a mundane housewife, but she’s the great goddess Uzume in disguise. She’s still an erotic spirit. Many sacred amulets and images depict her in various states of undress. Sometimes she exposes her vulva. Erotic images of Okame may be found at the bottom of sake cups.


Friendly, welcoming Oka me has a chubby face and body; merry, sparkling eyes; and a tiny, ever-smiling mouth.


Over the years, Okame masks have become more stylized and, perhaps for comic effect, tend to emphasize that she is not, by modern standards, a beauty queen.


Hyotoko and Fukusuke are sometimes identified as her partners. Okame is also sometimes paired with a tengu.

Spirit allies:

Okame is often depicted with Daruma or dressed up as Daruma. Some traditions consider them a married couple: Mr. and Mrs. Daruma. (Of course, these are traditions that have divorced Daruma from his original identity as an ascetic Bodhisattva. Mrs. Daruma, Goddess of Abundance, isn’t having any of that.)


Ume (plum blossom: the tree blooms in the dead of winter, providing color, joy, and hope)

Sacred site:

Her shrine, Senbon Shakado, in Kyoto but also wherever her image appears


Plum wine, sake, incense, her images, more of her images, anything with her picture on it


  • Amaterasu
  • Amida
  • Bodhisattva
  • Daruma
  • Fukusuke
  • Hyotoko
  • Maneki Neko
  • Nang Kwak
  • Sarutahiko
  • Tengu
  • Uzume


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.