Sanbo (Shinto) (三方 (神道))

A sanbo, also known as a sanpo, is a small stand used in Shinto rituals for presenting shinsen (offerings of food and alcohol) to kami (deities, spirits). In ancient times, it was also used when presenting things to members of the upper-classes. Similar items are used at Buddhist temples as well, and the term is sometimes written with the Chinese characters 三宝 (sanpo), which also represent the Triratna, or Three Treasures of Buddhism: Buddha, Dharma (Teachings), and Sangha (Community).

A sanbo is usually made of unfinished wood such as Japanese cypress, and consists of a tray called an oshiki on top of a cuboid-shaped base (body). The name 'sanbo' (literally 'three sides') comes from the fact that there are holes on three sides of the base. The tray and the base used to be separate, with the tray put on the base before use and sometimes even used by itself without the base. These days, the tray is always attached to the base, and a separate tray is available for use aside from the sanbo.

The seam made when the ends of the board that forms the lip of the tray meet should be on the opposite side from the side without a hole. When it is offered to a kami, the side without a hole (the side opposite the seam) should face toward the kami. When holding a sanbo with offerings on it, people should place their thumbs on the side edges, support the tray and the base with the other fingers, and keep the sanbo at eye level.

[Original Japanese]