Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ema 絵馬

Ema are small wooden plaques on which Shinto worshippers write their prayers or wishes. The ema are then left hanging up at the shrine, where the kami (spirits) receive them. Ema come in various shapes and sizes and usually bear pictures, often of animals or other Shinto imagery, representing that particular shrine and also many have the word gan'i (wish) written along the side. These are from Fushimi Inari Taisha so they are understandably in the shape of the kitsune - each person who purchases one draws in the face and inscribes their wish on the back. Common reasons for buying a ema might include success in work or on exams, marital bliss, to have children, and health. Some shrines specialize in certain types of ema and their sales help support the shrine financially.

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