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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Offerings and Talismans
Hatsuho
Literally, "first rice ears " namely, rice offered to the kami as the "first fruits" of the autumn harvest. Also found written and . Originally hatsuho referred to ears of plucked (cut) rice, tied in bunches and hung up as an offering. At the Grand Shrines of Ise, a ritual cutting of rice ears (nuihosai) is performed in preparation for the festival of Kannamesai, and the rice stalks cut in this way are believed to represent the original form of hatsuho. Rites celebrating the cutting of rice stalks are observed at other shrines as well, and folk rites of hanging up rice ears are observed in many areas in advance of the regular harvest festival. Although hatsu means "first" and ho means "rice ears," later usage expanded the meaning of the term beyond grains to include other "first fruits" harvested that year, such as vegetables, fish, or meat, and in time, even monetary offerings. Likewise, rather than presenting bundles of rice stalks, it became customary to present loose grains of rice, either scattered as in sanmai, or wrapped in pieces of white paper as ohineri. Further, processed forms of the foods also came to be included, such as rice flour, round rice crackers (shitogi), steamed rice and rice cakes. The word is based on the annual cycle of agricultural rites, but examples also exist of the use of the term to refer to the first offering of the day made to a kami. The rite also developed into the everyday practice of giving neighbors and friends gifts of the "first produce" (hatsumono) of the season.

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