Traditions and New Year Wishes

Japanese ladies and Ema wishing plaques

New year in Japan is filled with a variety of traditional activities. The picture above shows shrine visitors during the very first visit of their favorite shrine in the new year (called hatsumōde), in front of a display of colorful wooden wishing plaques, called Ema.

Ema wishing plaquesThe Eclectic ‘Ema’

These colorful plaques are made from flat pieces of wood in a variety of shapes and sizes.

They are decorated on one side with an eclectic range of images of things such as animals, flowers or symbols of the particular shrine they come from.

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Japanes children and Ema wishing plaqueThe back of an Ema is left blank. This is where people of all ages write their wishes and make drawings before hanging it on a special wall in the shrine.

Origin

The Ema tradition goes back a long time, though its origin is somewhat unclear.

The ones that look like what we have today have been around since the 14th century Muromachi period, but the custom itself has been around in various forms since the 8th century Nara period.

Final Journey

Ema wishing plaques and sacred pyreOnce an Ema is complete with its owner’s wishes, it is left where it is placed until collected by the shrine priests on a special day (usually once or twice a year) and burned in a sacred pyre for its final journey to the heavens.

 

 

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WAWAZA Staff Writers

WAWAZA Staff Writers

This post was written by collaboration and contributions of the staff at WAWAZA Japanese Traditional Beauty and Wellness based in Miyazaki, Japan.
WAWAZA Staff Writers

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WAWAZA Staff Writers

About WAWAZA Staff Writers

This post was written by collaboration and contributions of the staff at WAWAZA Japanese Traditional Beauty and Wellness based in Miyazaki, Japan.

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