Hamaya (破魔矢)

Hamaya is an arrow given as a lucky charm of the New Year by a temple and/or a Shinto shrine. Hamaya and the Japanese bow called Hamayumi often make a set.

Additionally, as a ritual in the Jotoshiki (roof-laying ceremony), which is held when a house is newly built, a set of bow and arrow is planted on an altar set up on the housetop in the direction of the Kimon ('demon's gate'; the northeast of one's position, superstitiously believed to be unlucky) in order to expel evil influence. There is also a custom in which relatives and acquaintances present Hamaya and Hamayumi to a newborn baby at the baby's first annual celebration.

The words "Hamaya" and "Hamayumi" are derived from the bow and arrow used in a New Year event called 'Jarai,' in which people pit their skills in Japanese archery against one another.
The target used in the event was originally called 'Hama.'
Therefore, an arrow used for hitting the target was called 'Hamaya,' and a bow was called 'Hamayumi.'
When the word 'Hama' is written in the Chinese character, it can also be construed as a word meaning 'driving away devils'; this produced the custom of presenting a toy comprised of a bow-and-arrow set in the New Year to the family with a son. Later, it became a custom that Hamaya would be given in Hatsumode, the first prayer at a Shinto shrine and/or temple on New Year's Day, thus regarding Hamaya as a lucky charm by which to win good fortune throughout the year.

Hamaya,' a lucky charm given by shrines today, was originally a trademark registered by a company in Kanagawa Prefecture called Hamaya Hoseisho, which produced 'Hamaya' by decorating a small bow with amulets or other materials.
However, the company failed to renew the registration several years ago, saying that such type of lucky charm had been generally identified with 'Hamaya.'
Therefore, Japan Broadcasting Corporation, in refraining from the use of the trademark, had used to express the lucky charm in other words such as 'Mayoke no Ya' (arrow of amulet) in the NHK news program before, but today it often uses the word 'Hamaya.'

[Original Japanese]