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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Offerings and Talismans
Literally, "thousand-shrine-emblem," a small paper label printed with information such as one's name, the date, and place of origin, affixed to the walls or pillars of temples and shrines by pilgrims. The custom of following a pilgrimage circuit to pay worship at numerous temples or shrines arose in the Muromachi period, and circuits of pilgrimages sites sacred to the Bodhisattva Kannon were especially popular. Pilgrims would affix personal labels at each stop. In the mid-Edo period, the appearance of numerous "faddish deities" (hayarigami) resulted in the popular practice of visiting large numbers of temples and shrines (a practice literally called "thousand-shrine pilgrimage"), and this led to use of the term "thousand-shrine labels" (senjafuda). The labels themselves were originally written by hand, but later produced as woodblock impressions, and evolved from monochrome to color, with increasingly new and unusual designs. Pilgrims would attach a label to a door, pillar, or ceiling of the temple or shrine, always striving to place it as high as possible as a matter of pride, sometimes attaching a glue brush to a long pole for this purpose. In time, senjafuda became more a popular novelty than an expression of religious faith, and they are now collected by hobbyists.

-Iwai Hiroshi
Senjafuda affixed to shaden (shrine buldings)

Wakayama Prefecture, 2005

©Fujii Hiroaki

Senjafuda which have been stuck on Zuishimmon Gate of Tsukubasan Jinja.

Ibaraki Prefecture, 2007

©Ichida Masataka

Nenomoto Jinja, located at the foot of Mt. Ōyama. Worshipers climbing Mt. Ōyama attach Senjafuda to structures forming part of the shrine complex.

Kanagawa Prefecture, 2007

©Ōsawa Kōji

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