I was reading a few articles about 依り代 and there's one thing I'm wondering about. Most of what I read say that 'yorishiro' are objects or sometimes people that attract kami. The following is just my assumption because I did not find something that would specify, but, I wondered if the objects or 'vessels' (this is how I would translate in a particular context) need to have certain qualities/certain aspects in order for the kami to posses it?
I'm asking this because it might help me with something I came across for which I have formed a theory.
Thank you!

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    It depends on the plot, I guess. Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 14:41
  • @broccoliforest I don't want to make wrong assumptions, so I was hoping that if someone here has more knowledge upon the subject of 依り代 to enlighten me, it would be great. After reading on a few sites and fragments in books, I wonder if kami have preferences. I read that swords for example are among the usual yorishiro, so, are swords appealing to kami that are regarded as deities of war for example? Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


Today, 依り代 is broadly used in any context related to spirit possession, and it can be anything or anyone. It's also commonly used outside the contexts of Japanese shinto. It can be a piece of paper, a sword, a tree, a rock, a doll, an animal or a human being. I think it's perfectly fine to use 依り代 to describe some ritual item used by a Voodoo priestess, for example.

According to sources, the word 依り代 was invented in the early 20th century by an ethnologist Shinobu Orikuchi to explain a certain aspect of religious belief of Japanese people. It's not a traditional shinto term, and by its nature, the word will not determine what a concrete 依り代 must look like.

  • thank you! I needed more info in order to explain something from a story. Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 19:11

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