A friend recently traveled to Japan and snapped a picture of these sacred fox emma in Fushimi Inari-taisha, a large temple complex in Kyoto:
He writes, "I believe that the plaques are correctly called emma, and one generally writes a wish on the back and hangs it up at the shrine. In this case, you also draw the face of the fox, which is kind of like the 'wishing Daruma' dolls, where you fill in one eye when you make the wish, and the other eye when the wish comes true, but I really have no idea about this."
I must admit I find these endlessly charming, and can only imagine how much I would have loved them as a kid. Somehow drawing the face of a fox on a prayer card seems a lot more fun than counting out Hail Marys, which is what I spent quite a bit of my childhood doing.
I think my favorite is the fellow in the rectangular glasses.