Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shimenawa Diversity


Shimenawa, the sacred ropes most commonly found at Shinto shrines, come in a wide variety of styles, shapes, and sizes.

The simplest would simply be a length of string with shiden hanging from it such as would be used to line the roads leading to a shrine during matsuri, or to enclose a temporary sacred space.

One day in Shimonoseki 791

Thicker rope is commonly used, usually made of rice straw, but increasingly make of plastic. The long shimenawa used to connect sacred rocks would be of this type.


When it comes to size and sculptural form, the shimenawa of Izumo rank high, including the largest shimenawa in the world.


Recently in the Bitchu area (now part of Okayama Prefecture) I found this unusual design at several shrines.


Shimenawas with fringes I've seen at several places. This one is at one of the shrines on Yoshidayama in Kyoto City.

48 Hours. 227 oif 600

There are severak styles that involve the thicker ropes being tightly wrapped to make them smoother. This one is at one of the Munakata Shrines in northern Kyushu.


There are several styles of shimenawa that are braided. I believe one of these styles is known as Kasuga style. The one above was a common design around the base of Mount Daisen in Tottori.


Very short shimenawa can often be found on Hokora (wayside shrines) or Kamidana (household altars. This one is up in Higashi Izumo

Part of my continued fascination with visiting new shrines is to discover new variations on such things as the shimenawa, statues and carvings etc.


  1. There's something about shimenawa that's magical... especially the weather-worn ones.

  2. That's one of my favorite articles!
    Arigatou, Ojisanjake!

  3. Awesome shimenawa compilation, do you have more works from mizuki shigeru ? he is an awesome artist.