Encyclopedia of Shinto Kokugakuin University
 main menu
  »New EOS site

  »Home

  »Foreword

  »Guide to Usage

  »Contributors & Translators

  

  »Movies List
 Links
AND OR

Home » 2. Kami (Deities) » Kami in Folk Religion
Oshirasama
A tutelary of the home (ie no kami) found throughout Japan's northeastern region; also referred to as Oshirabotoke ("the Oshira Buddha"). Although Oshirasama is commonly viewed as a tutelary of agriculture and silkworm production, little agreement has been reached regarding the etymology of the name Oshira and the kami's specific characteristics. The object of Oshirasama worship generally consists of a pair of sticks of mulberry (ocassionally bamboo) about 30 cm long, with male and female faces (or a horse's head) carved or painted in ink on one end. The images are clothed in layers of cloth called osendaku which are added to each year. Many old families enshrine Oshirasama on a kamidana or in the alcove of a main room, and they are also used as ritual implements by religious practitioners such as itako. Devotees of Oshirasama may be composed of individual homes, lineage groups (dōzokudan), geographically linked community groups, and confraternities (), but all are characterized by the fact that women play the central roles in the cult.

Called meinichi, the festival day to Oshirasama falls on the sixteenth day of the first, third and ninth months according to the lunar calender. On meinichi, the Oshirasama is removed from its kamidana, offerings (shinsen) are presented, and a new layer of osendaku is added. On the meinichi of the third and ninth months, one of the folk female shamans called itako is called to the home. The itako faces the Oshirasama enshrined on an altar, and reads a mantra meant to invoke the presence of the kami. Next, the itako holds one Oshirasama in each hand and while intoning the Oshira mantra, moves the dolls as though they were dancing, a rite called oshira asobase. Finally, the itako performs divinations for the village or individual households. The Oshirasama cult involves taboos, as it is said that Oshirasama disdains eggs and chickens, as well as the meat of two- and four-legged animals. Breaking one of the taboos may result in a twisted mouth or major illness. In addition, should one fail to worship Oshirasama properly, the Oshirasama may visit the family with a curse, or fly away and mysteriously disappear.

-Iwai Hiroshi
Oshirasama in Kimono

Shinto Museum of Kokugakuin University

"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
4-10-28 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-8440, Japan
URL http://21coe.kokugakuin.ac.jp/
Copyright ©2002-2006 Kokugakuin University. All rights reserved.
Ver. 1.3