Senjafuda (a votive card) (千社札)

Senjafuda (also referred to as Senshafuda) is a card or slip stuck to shrines and temples on which visitor's name is printed as a memorial of the visit. Originally, it was a strip made of copper, however, during and after the Edo period, paper was usually used.

Recently sticker types are often used and this is made with special vending machines where one can input his name and make a card.

As it has become easy to make senjafuda, people use them in many ways other than for the original purpose.


For senjafuda, a strip called iccho-fuda (a 1 cho-sized card) of 58mm in width and 173mm in length is used. A frame called komochi-waku (inner frame where characters are printed within) is printed on the card and inside, characters such as name and so on are printed. Meanwhile, in 1887 the komochi-waku was stipulated to be a width of 48mm and a length 144mm.

Normally, senjafuda dedicated to shrines and temples are done in India ink, however, multiple color printed 'irofuda (literally, colored card)' are often made for exchange, collection, and appreciation. Fanciers sometimes hold and enjoy a gathering for exchanging cards.
In 'Hanamachi (or 'Kagai', geisha districts)' in Kyoto, they use patterned senjafuda instead of a business card called 'Hanameishi (literally, flower business card.)

Presently these are mainly used.

The letters are mainly characters designed during the Edo period, and senjafuda are printed in 'Edo-hanga' (wood block prints that were produced in and around the Edo period) in the same way as nishiki-e (a colored woodblock print).

Usually, senjafuda is stuck to conspicuous place on the buildings of shrines or temples when dedicated, however, it is sometimes stuck in places not exposed to wind and rain and this is called 'kakuhsi-bari (secret pasting.).'

Nuke (remains of senjafuda)

When senjafuda dedicated to shrines and temples were stuck to ceilings and walls and a long time had passed, the blank part of the paper became tattered and, and only the printed or written area in India ink or such are left.
This area remaining is called 'Nuke.'

Present Day Senjafuda

Recently, easily-made sticker type senjafuda have increased and are used other than for religious purposes such as for business cards and some kind of amulet stuck to 'bachi' (drumsticks) of a drum master to inspire himself when he performs. However, some shrines, etc prohibit visitors from dedicating senjafuda in what is considered a disruptive behavior by visitors who breach protocol.

Behavior Reagrded as Disruptive

Prevalence of sticker type senjafuda has become a focus of criticism that it is violating the traditions and rules governing senjafuda.

Sticking personal senjafuda on other's senjafuda. In particular, sticking new one onto the 'nuke' of patterns and characters still remaining are sometimes done without being aware of it.

Sticking colored senjafuda. Originally, when senjafuda is stuck, it should be those done in India ink and loud appealing colored cards should be avoided. Seen today is more aggravating behavior of those using senjafuda as advertising media by printing unnecessary characters and pictures other than visitor's name.

Using hard to detach senjafuda
Considerating that senjafuda are sometimes peeled off to maintain the facilities of shrines and temples, it is necessary to use an adhesive that is harmless to the buildings.

[Original Japanese]