Gohei (御幣)

Gohei is one type of heihaku used in the religious services of Shinto, made by clipping two shide (zigzag strips of paper) into a heigushi (staff) made of bamboo or other wood. Also called Heisoku or Nusa.

While usual shide strips are made from white paper, those to be clipped into to gohei can be five-color paper, gold foil or silver foil in addition to white paper.

Originally, offerings of fuhaku (cotton, silk, textile fabrics) were presented to the god by clipping them into a wood staff, and this practice forms the origin for today's customary gohei. Originally an offering to the god, gohei later stood within the sanctuary and came to be viewed as a yorishiro (object representative of a divine spirit) or a shintai (object in which the spirit of a divine spirit resides), or were used as implements, like haraegushi, with which to purify worshipers at the shrine.

A gohei with several heisoku stripes attached to a long wood or bamboo stick is specifically called Bonten.

An expression relating to Gohei

Gohei wo katsugu: be superstitious and bothered with superstitions.

[Original Japanese]