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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Offerings and Talismans
A horse presented as a votive offering (hōnō), to serve as a mount for the kami, also called jinme or kamikoma. Horses were viewed as agents for bearing the kami since ancient times, and it was customary to present a horse to the kami as an expression of gratitude when making a vow or entreaty (kisei) at a shrine. If it were not possible to present a living horse, one might offer a wooden carving of a horse or a horse painting on a wooden plaque to serve as emblem (katashiro) of a horse. It is believed that the latter custom was the origin of the votive horse paintings called ema. In some cases, shrines specified the color of a horse to be offered as a votive. The custom also existed of dedicating a black horse when praying for rain and a white horse when praying for rain to end. Shinme might be given to a shrine in perpetuity and thereafter raised in a special stable, or they might be returned to pasture once they had been dedicated to the kami.

-Iwai Hiroshi
The votive offering of a horse (shinme) at the Kunimuke matsuri

Ishikawa Prefecture, 2003

©Ichida Masataka

A dedicated horse (shinme) in its stable on the grounds of Ise Jingu.

Mie Prefecture, 2005

©Ōsawa Kōji

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