Our home's coronavirus omamori

Coronavirus paper mache omamori hanging in the living room

As we enter the third year of the Covid pandemic, I feel grateful that no one in the family has gotten Covid yet. It might be because we have avoided the Three Cs as much as we can, always used alcohol disinfectant and masks where appropriate and completely shunned eating out–not to mention getting two shots of the Covid vaccine.

But we also like to think it’s because of the giant coronavirus omamori that we created during the height of the pandemic in 2020 protecting us from the real thing.

An omamori (お守り) is a Japanese amulet commonly sold at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples that is believed to provide luck or protection (“mamoru” means “to protect”).

During a few days of state of emergency in Japan in 2020 when everybody was holed up inside the house, we passed the time creating a 3,000,000x coronavirus replica made of paper mache (or papier-mâché, if you prefer).

The 3,000,000x size is just about right: coronavirus diameter is 100nm and our replica is made from a 30cm ball.

As every schoolchild knows, paper mache needs glue and newspaper–lots of them. For our project we also needed blue paint and colored origami paper.

We cleaned up a 30cm ball from the 100-yen shop and pasted several layers of newspaper on its surface.

We then attached a piece of string on top and pasted crumpled red origami paper around it to resemble the protein spikes and pasted more layers of newspaper.

After painting the body blue and attaching multicolored protein globules made of smaller origami paper, the coronavirus omamori is ready for drying.

While our omamori was not blessed by a Shinto or Buddhist priest, I’d like to think it is as potent as the real thing because it was a family project that made everyone realise the gravity of the pandemic and the need to protect oneself and others by taking preventive measures.

Not to mention it made a really cool decoration in the living room, where it still hangs.