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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Offerings and Talismans
Shinsen
A general term for offerings of food made to the kami. In ancient times these offerings were called mike. A distinct characteristic of Japanese ritual worship since ancient times has been the concept that human beings may invoke the presence or appearance of the kami, present the kami with food offerings, and frequently share meals with the kami. Accordingly, the best sake, water, salt, grains, vegetables, fruits, meats, poultry, and fish were elaborately embellished and offered to the kami. In this sense shinsen reflected the dietary culture of ancient people, but over time the methods of cooking, preparation, and presentation came to be formalized, and with influence from Buddhism and changes arising from the widening distribution of various foods, the shinsen offered in various regions began to change. In 1875 uniform rituals were established at shrines of various ranks throughout the nation, and the shinsen offered at those shrines were also largely standardized. Nevertheless, many shrines continue to preserve unusual shinsen unique to their own histories. shinsen can be classified according to a number of criteria, including content and form; a typical classification is that based on whether the item is raw (seisen) or cooked (jukusen). Also, live offerings are called ikenie, while vegetarian offerings excluding fish and meat are called sosen. In some cases, persons engaging in the preparation of offerings must undergo periods of abstinence (kessai).

-Iwai Hiroshi
Shinsen from Kamomioya Jinja

Shinto Museum of Kokugakuin University

Preparations for shinsen (offerings of food made to the kami) during the Morotabune shinji at Miho Jinja

Shimane Prefecture, 2006

©Fujii Hiroaki

Food offerings made in front of the altar. The sanbō trays carry vegetables, rice wine, and rice.

Tokyo, 2005

©Ōsawa Kōji

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