The Dumpling

The Dumpling is also regarded as a charm against the perils of wave and flood, it being the sacred bread of the Nation, and in its circular shape is the symbol of the Sun.

The Carp

The Carp (Illustration No. 37, Plate III) is worn as a Talisman for endurance and pluck, because according to an old legend a Carp by the exercise of these virtues succeeded in leaping all cataracts, and in finally reaching the Chariot Cloud, which carried him to Heaven and eternal happiness. On all festival days, the Carp plays a very important part as a symbol of good fortune, and it is customary on these occasions to send up large fish-shaped kites, one for each son, the Carp being essentially a masculine Talisman.

As in China, Talismans frequently consist of inscriptions on paper, invocations to one or other of the gods for success and good fortune, the symbol of the god being used according to the purpose of the Talisman. The sacred dog of Mitsumine is used as a protection from robbers, the god Jurojin, the Stork, the Tortoise, or the Crane for health and longevity.

A very popular charm for the latter purpose is the impression of a child's hand made by inking the hand, which is then pressed on to a piece of paper. These paper Talismans are pasted up both inside and outside the house and are considered to avert all evil influences.

In Tokio a popular charm consists of a thin piece of wood on which is written the name of the famous shrine Narita; this is worn as a luck-bringer, and for protection from all dangers.

Symbols of the Houses of the Zodiac are also used as Talismans, worked in metal varying according to the House occupied by the Sun at the time of birth.

A very important Talisman is the symbol Mitsu-Domoe, the triple form of the source of life, representing the elements of Fire, Air, and Water. It is worn to protect the household and person from Fire, Flood, and Theft (see Illustration No. 43, Plate III). This diagram is considered to symbolise ceaseless change, and is said by some authorities to have had its origin in a three-limbed Swastika Cross.

The Fan

The Fan, which is regarded as an emblem of Power and Authority, is a Talisman to ensure the safety of its wearers (Illustration No. 41, Plate III).

The Hammer Of Daikoku

The Hammer Of Daikoku, the god of Wealth, is worn for success and good fortune.

On the same plate, Illustration No. 46 represents the Keys of the Granary, or storehouse, which are worn for love, wealth, and happiness.

The Anchor

The Anchor is worn for security and safety.

Rock Crystal Balls

Rock Crystal Balls, mounted as charms, are worn as a preventative of dropsy and other wasting diseases.

A charm popular with travellers is the leaf of the Teg-a-shiwa; the Japanese say that the movements of this leaf in the wind resemble the beckoning of a hand. When a relative is about to start on a journey he is served with a meal of fish on one of these leaves in lieu of a plate; when the meal is finished the leaf is hung over the door in the belief that it will ensure well-being on his journey and a safe return.

A Talisman for luck and good fortune is a representation of Ota-fu-ku, the joyful goddess, who is depicted with a chubby laughing face which is painted on purses and little gifts exchanged between friends, and it is thought that to look upon her face will bring prosperity, joy, and good fortune.

At the New Year it is customary to hang a rope before dwellings, in front of shrines, or to suspend it across the road to thwart evil spirits and avert ill-luck; it is called Shinenaka, and is made of rice-straw plucked up by the roots, the ends being allowed to dangle down at regular intervals.

To protect the house from demons, and to keep its occupants secure, a bow is fixed to the roof ridge, and if tiles are used impressed with an ornament like bubbles an efficient Talisman for protection against fire is obtained. The Japanese believe that the materials, principally wood, of which their temples are made become impregnated with favourable influences, as the result of the services that are held in them, and as these temples are entirely pulled down every twenty years there is a great demand for the old wood, from which Talismans are made.

One of the most ancient temples is at Ise, where a shrine has been in existence many hundreds of years B.C., and when this temple is broken up thousands of pilgrims assemble to secure fragments of its precious wood.

The temple is rebuilt of new wood exactly on the lines of the old one.