塩 shio—salt

So, today when we went out we found that people in our area had put little piles of salt on the ground at their gateposts and at the corners of their property. Anyone know what that’s about?

One of our neighbours even salted the drain cover outside their house:

I went out and placed some salt too. I wouldn’t like my neighbours to think I was benefiting from their salting activity, without doing my fair share of the salting.

In the photos, if you look carefully you can see little square or triangular metal plates on the ground, with the word “boundary” and a red arrow marking the exact corner of the property. Because of the shape of our back garden, there are 4 at the rear of our house.

Note on the word of the day:

shio means salt. It’s pronounced en in compounds, such as 食塩 shoku-en table salt.The kanji contains the simpler characters for ground, mouth and plate, which makes it somewhat easy to remember.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “塩 shio—salt

  1. Japanese people often use salt to ‘purify’ things. Like Sumo wrestlers in the ring throw salt about. If you throw someone out of the house because they offended you, you might want salt to purify the house after they are gone, although that is more of an older custom.

  2. You are right about the purification aspect. I found a couple of things online. “morishio” and “makishio”. The difference, as far as I can make out, is that morishio is little piles of salt at the doorway so that people who enter are purified. Whereas makishio (what we saw today) is salt placed at the 4 corners of the property to ward off evil spirits (especially the north-east corner, because apparently that’s where evil spirits are more likely to come from).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s