Art & Folklore


Senjafuda, small tags used in shrine worship during the Heian and Edo periods in Japan, hold a fascinating history and cultural significance. Initially made from wooden slats and later transitioned to paper, these votive slips served as a form of prayer and identification for visitors to Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.

The Origins of Senjafuda

During the Heian period, senjafuda emerged as a way for shrine worshippers to commemorate their pilgrimages and offer homage to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. Initially, senjafuda consisted of wooden slats inscribed with visitors’ names, area of origin, and prayers for a good life and afterlife.

Styles of Senjafuda

Daimei Nosatsu

Daimei nosatsu represents the older style of senjafuda and is characterized by basic black ink on white paper. The strong ink used in this style often leaves permanent stains on the shrine or temple gates, even after the paper is peeled away. Some shrine priests disapprove of senjafuda due to the ink stains and modern practices that disregard shrine rituals.

Kokan Nosatsu

Kokan nosatsu emerged during the Edo period and represents the newer style of senjafuda. These tags feature vibrant colors, rich patterns, and intricate designs, making them more akin to novelty items or trading cards. Kokan nosatsu gained significance during the senjamairi tradition, where shrine pilgrimages became popular for bringing good luck.

Senjafuda Collecting and Exchange

The popularity of senjafuda led to the rise of collectors who would meet and exchange their designs and colors. Initially, these meetings took place in private, but they later transitioned to public venues such as restaurants and tea houses. Despite an attempt by the government to regulate senjafuda trading through a law, collectors persisted in their meetings.

Exchange meeting depicted by Hiroshige

Senjafuda meetings among collectors and enthusiasts continue to thrive today, showcasing their enduring popularity. From their origins as a form of worship to their role as collectible items, senjafuda offer a rich history and cultural significance to explore. By appreciating the diverse designs and stories behind senjafuda, we can delve into the world of shrine worship and collecting traditions in Japan.

Varios senjafuda featuring Yōkai

My own Senjafuda designed by Shisamu Iwase

At the link below you can see the Yōkai Senjafuda collection at the University of Oregon, together with informative explanations about the meaning, history and development of these paintings.


Letting go

This book changed my life.

Whichever might be the aspect you want to improve in your life – professional, relationships, happyness, creativity – everything starts from how you perceive everyday’s events and how well you nurture your internal dialogue.

This book, a beautiful fusion of clinical psychology and spirituality, teaches a practical method to improve our emotional intelligence and process self-sabotaging feelings and thoughts in a constructive way.



Over the next couple of months I will be attending the shows in Helsinki (APRIL) and Eindhoven (MAY). Bookings are open, you can get in touch with me via email for ideas and availability.