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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Offerings and Talismans
The term engi is the abbreviation of a longer term of Buddhist origin, innen shōki (Skt. pratītyasamutpāda, or "co-dependent origination"), but by extension it came to refer to narratives regarding the historical "origins" and miraculous tales of temples and shrines, or the written documents recording such stories. It also came to refer to miraculous signs foretelling good or evil for some proposed undertaking. It was in this latter sense that people of the early modern period used terms such as engi ga ii (omens presaging good fortune) or engi o katsugu (to believe in superstitious omens). In accordance with these usages, the custom of celebrating a good omen (engi iwai) or "changing one's luck" (engi naoshi) spread widely. From there, the term engimono came to refer to any good luck charm that one might purchase at the beginning of the year, or on "feast day" (ennichi) of a kami or Buddhist deity at a shrine or temple. Although the term formerly referred to auspicious New Year's decorations like border ropes (shimenawa) and pine and bamboo gateway decorations (kadomatsu), the varieties later proliferated. Most had some kind of specific association with the shrine or temple involved, and it was believed that if they were taken home and placed on the household's "good luck altar" (engidana) the family would enjoy the good favor of kami and Buddha throughout the year. Well-known examples include masks of the comical Otafuku (a fat woman representing happiness and prosperity) and kumade (small rakes decorated with symbols of good fortune and meant to "rake in" good luck), both of these found at the Tori no Ichi markets held on the Day of the Cock in the eleventh month; mayudama (tree branches decorated with rice cakes symbolizing silkworm cocoons), and hamaya (good luck arrows distributed by shrines), both distributed at New Year's; inu hariko (paper mache images of dogs) associated with a newborn child's first pilgrimage to a shrine (hatsu miyamairi). Others include "treasure ships" (takarabune) and "fortune-beckoning cats" (manekineko), so- called Daruma dolls, good-luck bulls, rice scoops, and chigi bako (small wooden boxes sold at the shrine Shiba Daijingū, and representing hopes for an increase in the number of kimono one owns).

-Suzuki Kentarō
Engimono represented by Daruma dolls at Kibitsu Jinja

Okayama Prefecture, 2005

©Tsujimura Shinobu

Sacred shamoji (rice scooper) sold on Itsukushima Jinja (Miyajima Island) in Hiroshima Prefecture

Shinto Museum of Kokugakuin University

The Mochibana sold at the Tsuinashiki held on February 3 at Nagata Jinja. By eating the Mochibana, people wish for freedom from illness and misfortune, and safety in the home.

Hyōgo prefecture, 2006

©Ōsawa Kōji

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