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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Ritual Implements and Vestments
A physical object used as emblem of the presence of a spirit in rites of worship. The term also refers to an object representing the human figure (hitogata or nademono), used in rites of purification (misogi or harae) to represent the subject of the rite, in which case the subject rubs the object on his body or blows breath upon it, thus transferring transgressions and pollutions (tsumi and kegare) to the object, which is later cast into a river or another body of water. Katashiro were also used when casting spells or curses. Most katashiro seen today are made of paper, but in the past they were also made of gold, silver, iron, wood, rice straw or miscanthus reeds. From the Heian period, a hitogata was presented to the court by a Yin-Yang divination master (onmyōji) each month for the performance of a rite called nanase no harai ("seven tides purification"). A similar rite called the jōshi no harai (lit., "first-day-of-the-snake exorcism") was performed on the third day of the third month, and this custom led to the practice of casting adrift dolls displayed for the third month's nodal festival (sekku). These dolls later came to be preserved and displayed as decorations rather than discarded. See also jōshi.

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"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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