Saturday, January 15, 2011

姫路神社 Himeji Shrine

I am discovering that Oshogatsu is basically a month long celebration, not just a one day event as the New Year is commonly celebrated in the States. Another Oshogatsu tradition are the decorations pictured here in front of the Himeji Jinja, called kadomatstu. A kadomatsu 門松, literally “gate pine,” is placed in pairs in front of homes, temples, and or business in late December, with the intention of welcoming ancestral spirits or kami and acting as temporary housing for them.

Also pictured here is a Shimenawa 標縄, "enclosing rope," which are lengths of sacred ropes made of rice straw, used for purification in Shintō. At New Years these are often replaced, being hung across the tops of gates or entryways to ward off evil. Often shimenawa are decorated with shide 紙垂, paper folded in a zigzag, or tassels (such as these); which also symbolize purification.

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