Himorogi (神籬)

Himorogi is an object that is designated as yorishiro (representative of a divine spirit) to enshrine a divine spirit temporarily when a festival is held in a place other than a shrine or a household Shinto altar. Himorogi is formed by placing a frame on an eight-legged table and a sakaki branch at the center of the frame. The sakaki branch is decorated with shide and yu (fiber of kozo (paper mulberry)).

Since ancient times, Japanese people have believed in divine spirits residing in nature including mountains, rocks, trees, and the sea, and regarded them as religious objects. Therefore, in ancient Shinto, each festival was held by inviting a divine spirit one at a time instead of building shrines and enshrining gods in the building of the shrine. To invite a divine spirit, a giant tree was surrounded by tamagaki (fence) and Shimenawa(sacred rice-straw ropes) to keep the tree sacred. In the ancient times, these places were called Himorogi. While shrines were built and festivals were held on the premises later, ancient shrines had tamagaki within the building and placed tokiwagi (evergreen such as sakaki) where a divine spirit resides and was enshrined. This evergreen come to be called Himorogi. Today, Himorogi is used in ground-breaking ceremonies.

The origin of a word 'Himorogi' (or 'Himoroki' in the ancient times) is as follows: 'Hi' refers to a divine spirit; 'moro' came from 'amoru,' meaning descending from the Heaven; and 'ki' means a tree. In summary, "Himorogi" means a tree where a divine spirit descends from the Heaven, or yorishiro of God.

* Heresy: Himorogi means a tall tree that can be a landmark for rendezvous, such as a Japanese cypress, needle juniper, or pine tree. It means a tree to meet or gather. It should be noted, however, that 'ki' at the end of 'Himoroki' differs in phonetics from 'ki' (tree) of Otsurui (second class) in ancient special Kana usage, so their origins have no relation with each other.

A kanji letter '籬' refers to a fence, especially the one made of bamboo. On the other hand, another kanji letter referring to a fence, '垣' originally refers to the one made of stones, but today only '垣' is used as a kanji for common use referring to both types of fence.

Kanji of Himorogi '神籬' was originally read as 'Kamigaki' or 'Mizugaki.'

Although the Japanese reading of Chinese characters '胙,' '膰,' and '燔' is also 'Himorogi,' these characters originally referred to meat that was offered to the God. This is a Chinese custom, because there was no such custom in Japan from ancient times to the present. It means that these Chinese characters were imported to Japan where the entity of these characters did not exist. It is regarded that these characters were read as 'Himorogi' because offerings to the God had been called as 'Himorogi' at some time.

[Original Japanese]