お守り o-mamori—charms

On Thursday we took the dogs to inu jinja—the dog shrine—in Nagoya.

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At the dog shrine you can see a statue of 犬の王 inu no ou—the king of the dogs.

(This photo is by geocacher “eizo” and was not taken on our visit. You can see the head of the dog king in the top picture above, peeping out from behind the kadomatsu.)

King Dog

Most shrines and temples sell charms (protective talismans) called o-mamori. The purchase of these items is like a small donation.

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Each shrine or temple tends to specialise in charms for a certain purpose, which might be exams, marriage, travel, etc. For example, there is a shrine not far from here called 方違神社 houchigai jinja. If you are planning to move house, you can buy a suitable o-mamori there. Inu jinja specialises in charms to protect dogs.

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O-mamori only remain effective for one year, so at New Year you are supposed to return your used charms to the shrine and get new ones. There were boxes full of returned charms and other religious objects. These are burned in the courtyard of the shrine. It was quite smoky.

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O-mamori usually take the form of a brocade bag with something inside, tied with a characteristic knot. Here are the o-mamori we bought.

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Note on the word of the day:

The verb 守る mamoru means “to protect”. You can often make a noun from the -masu stem of a verb (mamorimasu -> mamori) so 守り mamori is a noun meaning protection. Adding the honorific o- gives us o-mamori, which is a protective charm or talisman.

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