From ancient times, the Japanese people practiced 年越の大祓Toshikoshi-no-Ōharae, a prayer to purify and rid themselves of the year’s yakunan, or “bad luck” (illness, accident, injury, fight, misfortune etc.), and kegare, or “withered spirit.”
Over the previous six months since Nagoshi-no-Harae, the energy of a person’s spirit is diminished by tiredness, stress, and other pressures, so Toshikoshi-no-Ōharae rituals are performed at the end of the year to cleanse and refresh this energy and recharge the spirit. Shinto Shrine of Shusse Inari in America provides these traditional ceremonies with mystic rituals that have been passed down through generations of the Shrine family.
One such ritual is the use of hitogata (when used for people) or katashiro (when used for pets, vehicles, etc.) on which are written the mystic words, “Tokusa-no-kamdakara.” Hitogata are slips of paper cut into the shape of a person in order to represent the person it is being used for. In the Toshikoshi-no-Ōharae ceremony, the hitogata is thought to carry all of that person’s kegare. We hold this ceremony on New Year’s Eve. All of the participants’ names will be read. We also offer this ceremony for pets and vehicles.
This is a great opportunity to experience Japanese culture. You can download hitogata and katashiro for pets and vehicles from our website here. Shrine members are mailed a hitogata automatically, but will need to download katashiro and send the appropriate donation fee.
[How to use hitogata/katashiro]
1. Download and print out hitogata and/or katashiro from our website.
hitogata download here
Pet katashiro download here
Vehicle katashiro download here
2. Cut out the hitogata and/or katashiro along the outline.
3. Write your name, street address (not PO Box) and age* on the front of hitogata/katashiro.
4. Wipe on the body part one wishes to improve or renew with the hitogata or katashiro.
To use hitogata/pet katashiro, one suffering from knee pain would wipe the hitogata on their knee, or, if they wish to be smarter, on their head while saying your wishes like “please heal my knee pain, please be smarter,” etc. For a pet, rub the pet with the katashiro if possible.
To use vehicle katashiro, wipe the steering wheel while you are saying your wishes like “please no accidents, no mechanical issues,” etc…
5. Breathe upon the hitogata/katashiro. (For a pet, the pet itself or the owner may breathe upon the katashiro. For a vehicle, the owner or driver should breathe upon the katashiro).
6. Fill out the application form and select the package plan.
Dear international participant(s), we kindly ask that you cover shipping costs for your plan (hitogata plan excluded). Thank you for your understanding. Please note that local customs regulations may prohibit the shipping of Chinowa and rice to some countries.
7. Prepare the donation ceremony fee.
Check: Payable to Shinto Shrine of Shusse Inari in America
We will hold the Toshikoshi-no-Ōharae ceremony on December 31st with your Hitogata (and Katashiro) then notify you of the completion of the ceremony.
Your package will then be sent if you requested one.
Shrine office mailing address:
Shinto Shrine of Shusse Inari in America
9854 National Blvd., #284, Los Angeles, CA 90034