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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Ritual Implements and Vestments
A table-like platform used during ceremonies for holding heihaku, shinsen, tamagushi, and other ritual implements. An may also be called heihaku an, shinsen an, and tamagushi an to distinguish their specific purposes. Various styles and sizes are used, and they may have four, eight, or sixteen legs. The type most frequently used today has eight legs, four per side, and is called variously hassoku an, hakkyaku an, or hassoku tsukue; any of these terms may be abbreviated and called hassoku or hakkyaku. Under the ritual system outlined in Engishiki, the Department of Kami (Jingikan) made offerings (heihaku) "upon the an" at major shrines while making offerings "below the an" at minor shrines. This practice led to the use of expressions classifying shrines as "upon the table shrines" (anjōsha) and "below the table shrines" (angesha).

-Inoue Nobutaka
Japanese cypress (hinoki) an from Ise Jingū

Shinto Museum of Kokugakuin University

An example for how the an is employed at a shrine. A komo (a fabric mat woven from wild straw) is laid out on the ground, on top of which the an is positioned. On top of the an itself, tamagushi (a type of offering) is placed. Filmed at Atsuta Jingū.

Aichi Prefecture, 2005

©Ōsawa Kōji

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