Wednesday, December 25, 2019

We watched Shimenawa being made!

   In Japan, Shimenawa is used to decorate the gates at shrine entrances, torii gates, and entrances of homes when New Years rolls around. The word Shimenawa comes from the word “Shimeru,” which means “to possess or occupy.” A Shimenawa is the boundary between the domain that the gods occupy and this world. A Shimenawa represents the wish to not let evil inside.

   We visited Mr. Mizuta’s residence, in Ino Town, where they make Shimenawa, and the straw was piled up high! They were working silently among the piles of straw. They are inundated with orders from shrines outside of the prefecture, and during December they are extremely busy as they prepare to deliver their products.
The Mizuta family

   When I asked, “how do you make these?” they answered with a friendly attitude, “do you want to try?”

   The rice that becomes the material to make the straw is planted in April, and it is cut and dried starting in June and July. Then, they get rid of the small leaves, organize the straw, bundle it up and start the work.
 
【Things to prepare】
・1 bundle of straw
・3 straws for the core
・rope
Twisted straw
 
【How to make】
1. Take one bundle of straw and divide in three. Out of the three bundles, put one to the side (or sit on it).
2. Put the straw for the core into one of the bundles, and twist the bundle to the right so the core straw doesn’t show. Do the same with the other bundle.
3. Twist together the two bundles containing the straw for the core, and form one bundle.
4. Take the bundle you set aside earlier. Put the straw for the core in it, and twist to the right.
5. Take the first bundle you made and twist it to the right together with the second bundle.
6. Now that it is one bundle, twist into a U-shape, and tie the end together with rope. Tear off any stray pieces of straw.
7. Finally, the completed Shimenawa is decorated with flowers, tangerines, and papers.
Complete!
 
   Farmers like this who make traditional Shimenawa are rare in the prefecture, and are on the decline because of a lack of successors. After actually trying to make it, I realized that this work takes a lot of
strength. I hope everybody will get some straw and give this a try as well!

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