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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Objects of Worship and Shrine Treasures
Mirror. A device that reflects an image using the reflective property of its surface. Mirrors may be made of copper, silver, iron, jewels, or glass, and can be found in many different designs, including round, square, elliptical, "eight-petal hollyhock" (hakkōkyō ), "eight-arch" (hachiryō), and handled. Mirrors have served a variety of applications and usages, depending on the era and purpose. Together with swords and jewels, mirrors have been attributed with profound religious significance and used in ritual since ancient times, based on their mysterious property of reflecting all things.

As demonstrated by the inclusion of the "Eight-Span Mirror" (yata no kagami) among the Three Regalia (sanshu no jingi), mirrors were used within ancient ritual as mitamashiro, objects in which the kami would reside, and thus also revered as objects of worship (shintai) within shrines. As the combinatory religion of kami and buddhas (shinbutsu shūgō) proceeded in the late Heian (Fujiwara) period, the practice of etching fine line-drawings of kami or their associated Buddhist figures on mirrors developed, images known as mishōtai. Such images were placed in shrines as objects of worship, and dedicated to shrines by worshipers (sankeisha) within rites dedicated to the establishment of personal "affiliations" (kechien) with the deities concerned. Needless to say, mirrors were also dedicated to shrines as shrine treasures, as well as being thrown in bodies of water as part of rites of divination in cults of water kami (suijin), and as utensils in ground-breaking ceremonies.

-Okada Yoshiyuki
A scene depicting a Shinto priest making prostrations before a mirror placed in front of the shrine's central structure.

Ōita Prefecture, 2008

©Ichida Masataka

A mirror functioning as shintai (object of worship in which the kami is thought to reside) in the Honden at Akatsuka Suwa Jinja.

Tokyo, 2006

©Ōsawa Kōji

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