Ema are small wooden plaques on which Shinto worshippers write their prayers or wishes. The ema are then left hanging up at shrines where the gods can read them. Many ema have pictures painted on them of animals or other Shinto imaginary animals. They often have the word negai meaning “wish” written along the side. Literally, ema means “horse picture.” This comes from the fact that real horses were once offered by wealthy people in exchange for blessings at shrines.