Brand new small size Japanese Shinto prayer rope. These items are called shimenawa and are a common sight at Shinto shrines hanging from the torii shrine gate and above the entrance to the altar. Shimenawa are made of rice straw which is twisted and braided before being bound with string. A wood or wire insert is often used to cause the shimenawa to preserve its shape. Japanese will commonly replace old shimenawa at the start of each year (shogatsu) and new shimenawa will normally be decorated with specially cut paper inserts. To secure the paper inserts in place one may use a tool like a screwdriver to push the paper into place or simply twist the shimenawa lightly with the hands which will cause the braids to open and allow the paper ends to be slid inside. Shimenawa were in the past produced in the home by farmers using left over straw from the rice harvest. The video included with this listing shows a local farmer producing his own shimenawa at new year.
About the Listed Item
This small shimenawa is suitable for use with kamidana altars, above doorways, or torii gates or anywhere one might wish to impart a sense of spiritual reverence. The shimenawa includes four cut paper inserts.
Length: 15.6 inches (40.0 centimeters)
Diameter (at widest end): 1.2 inches (3.0 centimeters)
Weight: 1.6 ounces (45 grams)
More about the Shinto religion
Shinto is one of the two major religions of Japan (the other is Buddhism). Shinto is often considered to be the native religion of Japan, and is as old as Japan itself. The name Shinto means “the way of the gods.” Shinto is a pantheistic religion, in which many thousands of major and minor gods are thought to exist. The Japanese have built thousands of shrines throughout the country to honor and worship these gods. Some shrines are huge and are devoted to important deities. Other shrines are small and may be easily missed when strolling along roads in the countryside (please see the photo below showing our daughter at a very small local shrine near our home in Japan).
Shinto gods are called kami. Kami are thought to have influence on human affairs, and for this reason many Japanese make regular pilgrimage to community shrines in order to offer prayers to local kami. The act of prayer involves approaching the shrine structure, passing through the gate-like torii (red gates in the shrine photos below), cleansing the hands and mouth with water and possibly ascending stairs to the main entrance of the shrine. Usually without entering the shrine the worshipper will throw some coins into a stone or wooden collection box and then rattle the suzu bell which is at the top of a long hemp rope. The worshiper grabs hold of the rope and shakes it back and forth causing the copper bell at the top to rattle. This is thought to get the attention of the shrine god. The worshipper then bows twice, claps his or her hands twice and then bows again. In addition, the worshipper may clasp their hands together in silent prayer. Shintoism and Buddhism have managed to find a comfortable coexistence in Japan. Evidence of this harmonious relationship is found in the fact that that most Japanese are married in a Shinto shrine, but buried by a Buddhist priest.
item code: INV-0000116_01
ship code: stube