Take your own hishaku ladle with you to purify yourself before entering a Shinto shrine. 

Have you ever been to a shrine in Japan and noticed a little hut right at the entrance, where there is a water basin or a trickling fountain? That’s called a chozuya, and it’s there because of a centuries-old tradition of purifying oneself before entering a shrine. One typically uses the provided ladle (called hishaku in Japanese) to scoop up water and rinse their hands and mouths in order to spiritually cleanse oneself before praying at the altar.

Unfortunately, in the age of corona, sharing a ladle with all the other visitors isn’t exactly sanitary, so this is a custom that may be in danger of either going away or becoming replaced with something else as we continue to live life during a pandemic. However, you can help preserve the custom by keeping your very own portable ladle on hand.

The My Hishaku is a travel-size version of the ladle typically provided at the chozuya, and is actually the second version of the portable ladle provided by Tomiya Honten, a 120-year-old ritual goods manufacturer. Though the first version was equally portable, the new version is even smaller than the first, just 200 millimeters long (7.9 inches), 67 millimeters in diameter (2.6 inches), and 45 millimeters tall (1.8 inches).

▼ From Top to Bottom: an ordinary hishaku ladle, last year’s My Hishaku model, and this year’s My Hishaku model

It weighs just 45 grams (1.6 ounces) and it’s easy to carry with the special pouch made just for it. It has a clip that you can attach to your belt or bag for hands-free carrying, and the fabric is 100-percent cotton weaved into a high-density cloth, which is both water-resistant and ventilated, so you don’t have to worry about water leaking through and getting your clothes or bag wet.

The bags also have a snap fastener to keep them closed and the ladle securely inside, and they come in three sophisticated colors: navy, khaki, or camel.

The ladle is itself made entirely with Hinoki cypress harvested from the Tono region of Gifu prefecture, including the cup, which is unusual because the cup in other hishaku ladles is usually made with laminate. But you don’t have to worry about the wooden cup cracking or warping over time, as it’s been treated with a special polymer coating to keep it waterproof, sturdy, and safe from mold, bacteria, and sun damage.

Tomiya Honten is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Makuake to sponsor the production of the second version of the My Hishaku, and it has already raised more than four times its goal of 250,000 yen (about US$2,300). There are various levels of pledges and rewards, but if you pledge early you could get both the ladle and a pouch for 7,040 yen, as opposed to the expected retail price of 8,000 yen. In our opinion, that’s not a bad price to help keep a centuries-old tradition alive!

Source: PR Times via Japaaan
Images: PR Times

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