Posted by: softypapa | March 26, 2008

Shinto Shimenawa Rope Japan Kamidana Shogatsu New Year

Kamidana Shinto Jinja Zushi Altar God Kami God Shelf Ofuda Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa

Kamidana Shinto Jinja Zushi Altar God Kami God Shelf Ofuda Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa

Kamidana Shinto Jinja Zushi Altar God Kami God Shelf Ofuda Japan Japanese Nippon Nihon Tokaido Softypapa 


Note: The above video demonstrates a Japanese farmer making his own Shimenawa for use in his family home at new year. The Shimenawa offered in this listing was not produced by this man.


Small size Japanese Shinto prayer rope with no paper inserts.  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).  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 (please see size information below) 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. 

*** Please note that this shimenawa does not include any paper inserts ***

Size (approximate):
Length: 10.5 inches (27 centimeters)
Diameter (at widest end): 1.4 inches (3.5 centimeters)
Weight: 1.1 ounces (32 grams)

Note about buying Japanese Shinto antiques
Many Shinto items such as ofuda, omamori, hamaya and shimenawa are thought to have limited powers which diminish over time.  Japanese people therefore commonly dispose of such items each year in special burning ceremonies called dondoyaki, which are presided over by Shinto priests and performed on the grounds of the shrine.  However, many Shinto items are not burned and may find new life as cherished religious items, sometimes with foreigners practicing Shinto outside Japan.  Many of the Japanese we have discussed this with (including a Shinto priest) have been pleased to learn that old items of their native faith are often well received by Shinto believers abroad.  However, we are sensitive to the fact that some may prefer to see their old Shinto items burned and for this reason we do offer a free disposal service.  Anyone who wishes to have their Shinto items properly destroyed in a dondoyaki ceremony may send the items to us which we will hold and take to our local Shinto shrine for sanctioned disposal.  Please contact us in advance if you wish to use this complementary service and we will provide you with the appropriate mailing address.

Click here to see more Buddhist and Shinto items!
here to see additional treasures from Japan!

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 kamiKami 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: R1S3-0004165
ship code: G3

Shinto kamidana available at
Or visit us on eBay at The Old Tokaido


  1. Hello. I was wondering if you could assist me. I am a student of Anthropology. I have had the privlidge of living in Niihama, Shikoku Japan for 2 years.

    In Niihama I attended the Todo New Years Burning Ceremony. Currently I am writing an essay and making a film of this wonderous matsuri. I know it is Shinto in origin. I am hoping you could direct me to a site or paper or Anthropologist, book..essay.. any information would be most helpful.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you,

    Susan Naja

    • Hello Susan, Thank you for visiting and commenting. I apologize for my delay in response. I am afraid that I am not aware of any sites or information sources for the dondoyaki ceremony beside the brief information I included on another of my websites which you can see at the link below.

      I hope that this is at least a little helpful. I wish you all the best with your project! -Kurt

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