A traditional part of visiting the Shinto Shrine is to receive ofuda and omamori. Omamori are "yearly protective amulets" imbued with OKamisama's Fuku (Good Luck, protective power, blessings). Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America often does formal Shinto ceremonies on behalf of people who cannot visit in person. We also want to make available the experience of visiting the juyosho (the shrine sales area to: juyosho (amulet receiving place).
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History of the Kamidana
The Kamidana exists to house the Ofuda (yearly symbol of OKami). Having the Kamidana/Oyashiro in your home, office or dojo generates a truly wonderful fresh feeling. Everyone can go outside in the morning, bow and clap and give thanks to Taiyo (Sun/solar progenitor) Shinto teaches us that we receive our lives from Amaterasu OmiKami (Primal Amatsu Kami) and it Sarutahiko-no-OKami who teches us how to live (Primal Kunitsu Kami) When we can sincerely thank the Sun for giving/sustaining our lives we are experiencing Shinto thinking/feeling.
Amaterasu-OmiKami was enshrined at the Grand Shrine of Ise in Mie prefecture. She was given sacred treasures by her father "Izanagi-no-Mikoto". These treasures where to be enshrined as Kami. The present Kamidana has a deep relationship to the Grand Shrine of Ise. The Grand Shrine of Ise or "Jingu" is in Ise city in Mie. Jingu is composed of a large number of small shrines, centered around "Kotaijingu" and "Toyouke-Daijingu"...it is the largest and most revered of all Shinto shrines in Japan. Kotaijingu (Naiku) enshrines Amaterasu-OmiKami, head of all heavenly (amatsu) Kami and deity of the sun. In the divine age (Kamiyo) when the heavenly grandson Ninigi-no-Mikoto descended from the Great Plain of Heaven he brought with him the great gift of rice agriculture, the gift of Amaterasu-OmiKami. Toyouke-Daijingu (Geku) enshrines Toyouke-no-OKami. The deity of food as the source of life and patron Kami of those occupations responsible for providing food, clothing and dwellings. The purpose of the "O-Ise-mairi"or pilgrimage to Ise is to express gratitude for these blessings and to approach the shrine of the "solar progenitor" or parent to our solar system upon whom we depend for our lives. In the Edo period "Ise-Kou" or fraternal groups formed in every part of Japan. When a pilgramage was made to Jingu the amulet or "Oharai-taima" was taken home. These Oharai-taima were also distributed throughout Japan by the Ise-Kou or "Onshi "system. The "Daijingu-dana" or special house shrine was set up to enshrine the amulets of the Grand Shrine of Ise. This practise was the origin of todays House shrine or "Kamidana".
SETTING UP THE KAMIDANA
First, purify the site. Before setting up the Kamidana you must clean (purify) your home. Choose a site that is pure, light, quiet and high. Also it should be where the family gathers, convenient for making food offerings to Kami, convenient for daily prayers, on the North or West wall (so Kamidana-san's doors open to the South or East) If there is a floor above the Kamidana it is best to write the word "Kumo" (sky) on a peice of paper and place it above the Kamidana so people upstairs will not be walking over the Kamidana. Please place the Kamidana just above head height on each side of the Kamidana please place evergreen banches in the special vase (sakaki tate). A special straw rope (shimenawa) with paper shapes (shide) should be above the Kamidana.
The Kamidana must have the Ofuda, or amulet (the yearly symbol of the enshrined Kami). There are many types of Ofuda as there are many shrines in Japan. Tsubaki Grand Shrine has three types of Ofuda: Jingu Taima, Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami and Ame-no-Uzume-no Mikoto. Each year please return your old amulets to your shrine and receive the new one.
OFFERINGS TO KAMI
Food offerings to Kami are called "Shinsen". Generally shinsen consists of rice (kome), rice wine (sake/O-miki), water (Omizu), and salt (Oshio). These should be changed daily. After you remove the food offering you may eat them (naorae). Shinsen dishes are special and can be obtained from a shrine.
OFFERING PRAYERS AT A KAMIDANA
A fter "kensen" food offering, please face the Kamidana and enshrined diety, give gratitude for the gifts of life and pledge to do your utmost. Then bow twice, clap twice and bow once again.