The Shimenawa, also known as the sacred rope, is a special type of rope commonly used in various occasions such as Shinto shrines, temples, weddings, and New Year celebrations in Japan. Its origin can be traced back to ancient Japanese Shinto beliefs, where it is believed to serve as a connection between humans and gods, offering protection against evil forces.

The history of the Shimenawa dates back to around the 8th century AD, when Shinto beliefs began to flourish in Japan. Initially made from woven grass ropes, it later evolved to be crafted from hemp or palm ropes, incorporating strands of five different colors to enhance its divine nature. In recent years, there have been additional decorative designs introduced, such as incorporating dried flowers and cartoon patterns.

The Shimenawa is typically used during specific occasions, such as shrine or temple festivals and New Year’s blessings. In shrines and temples, it is often used to wrap pillars and beams, symbolizing their sacredness and protection. Particularly during the New Year period, people hang Shimenawa at their doorsteps to pray for peace and happiness in the coming year, similar to how Westerners hang wreaths made of pine during Christmas or Chinese people hang spring couplets during the Lunar New Year.

There are various styles and weaving methods of the Shimenawa, each carrying different blessings and symbolic meanings. Common styles include the Sango-nawa (three-five rope), Hachinawa (eight rope), and Juninawa (twelve rope), representing the three aspects of the body, mind, and soul. The weaving methods also vary, including flat weaving, twisting, and hanging knots, each with its own symbolic meaning and blessing effect.

The Sango-nawa is the most basic style, woven with three strands of grass rope and five strands of grass rope, representing the body and mind of a person. The Hachinawa is created by combining the Sango-nawa with three additional strands of grass rope and five strands of grass rope, representing the soul of a person. The Juninawa is made by adding four strands of grass rope and five strands of grass rope to the Hachinawa, symbolizing the life cycle of a person.

Different weaving methods also carry distinct blessing effects and symbolic meanings. Flat weaving is the simplest method, representing the stability of the body and mind. Twisting involves intertwining two ropes, symbolizing the connection between the soul and mind. Hanging knots involve suspending the Shimenawa at specific locations, representing sacredness and protection. However, there are certain taboos associated with the Shimenawa despite its common presence in daily life.

In recent years, workshops for making shurien have become very popular, and everyone hopes to hang this Japanese-style ornament at home, which not only means praying for blessings, but also can be used to decorate the home.

For example, cutting the Shimenawa is considered extremely unlucky, as it symbolizes severing the connection between humans and gods. Additionally, there are specific rules and taboos regarding the use of the Shimenawa during festivals and other special occasions:

  1. When visiting a shrine in Japan, if you see a Shimenawa encircling a sacred tree or sacred stone, it indicates that entry is prohibited. It is crucial not to touch or approach it, or even attempt to pass through it.
  2. Furthermore, it is disrespectful to engage in playful activities in front of the Shimenawa, as it shows disrespect towards the deities.
  3. When ordinary people want to decorate the strings during the New Year, they cannot 12 moon 29 Weather 12 moon 31 Japanese hanging, because Japanese “Nine” and “bitter” The pronunciation is the same,29 This number reminds people of “double suffering”; and 31 If you hang it for just one night, it will become a funeral custom. Both of them give people an unlucky feeling, so it is recommended to 28 day or 30 Day decoration.

Overall, the Shimenawa holds great significance in Japanese culture. It serves not only as a decorative item but also as a symbol of prayer and protection. Through its various styles, weaving methods, and embellishments, people can express their wishes for themselves and their families while showing reverence and gratitude to the deities. If you are interested in the Shimenawa, consider participating in a Shimenawa weaving workshop, where you can learn the weaving techniques and create a meaningful craft infused with your own energy, offering a fulfilling and positive experience!

We will teach you the most authentic method of making a Shimenawa, starting with the weaving of straw.Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.