Senjafuda: maps of the 1000 temples 千社札

The cards that decorate a thousand Japanese temples

Japanese Buddhist temples are known for their sobriety. The brown patina of the wood, the pavilions where a solitary Buddha welcomes the faithful, the minimalist Zen gardens contribute to the serenity and simplicity of these places of worship. However, it is not rare to see doors, pillars, beams, or even ceilings of temples entirely covered with written papers: the senjafuda. Poems, prayers, ex-voto, "visiting cards", have a long history that we invite you to discover.

But it is more and more difficult to be able to paste senjafuda because it is necessary to obtain the authorization of the temple or the sanctuary and to pay a certain sum. The monks do not look favorably on these pilgrims who seem to visit their temple only for the pleasure of leaving their cards there. And above all, the glue and the ink damage the wood and leave practically indelible traces once the paper has disappeared. The papers themselves take years to disappear, there are still some from the Edo period.  

It is forbidden to stick your strip of paper on heritage-listed buildings or to stick it on another already in place. The rule is to stick as high as possible but nowadays space is scarce...

Entrance to Sugimoto-dera Kamakura


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