If you visited or looked at pictures with Shinto shrines, you probably noticed places marked with a twisted rope - a shimenawa (sacred straw rope). Made of rice straw, shimenawa comes in many sizes, with lengths between a few centimeters to several meters - the largest shimenawa, from Izumo-taisha, is 13.5 meters long and weighs 5 tons! Also, you may have noticed white zigzag-shaped paper streamers hanging from shimenawa. These are called shide and together, shimenawa and shide are used to separate the profane and the sacred space and to keep the bad spirits away.
That’s why, the entrance into the Shinto shrines, is also marked by shimenawa placed on the torii gates. And according to Japanese tradition, the shimenawa must be replaced on the New Year’s eve, an activity I had the chance to witness and photograph one year ago at the Suga Shrine in Asakusabashi:
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: