Immortal Wishes, pp. 29-30)
are ritual figurines found in various locales in Tohoku.
In Aomori, they are used at times by itako spirit mediums
during recitiations of the oshirasaimon ritual chant and
entering into a spiritually-enhanced state, in which the
mediums may speak for the dead. Many oshirasama are owned
by individual families, who usualy store them near the family
butsudan (domestic Buddhist altar) and who believe that
they figurines bring them and their descendants good fortune.
oshirasama are usually made of mulberry wood cores, wrapped
in cloth, often including silk layers with an outer layer
of brocade; they are times decorated with metail jewelry
and ornaments. The figurines always come in pairs: a male
figure represents a mythic horse, a female figure represents
his female human-lover. In various versions of the Oshirasaimon
mythic text recited by itako mediums, the lovers are killed
by the young woman's enraged father.
are believed by their owners to like to travel. Some ascetics
undertaking shugyo at Akakura carry their family's oshirasama
on their backs each day as they climb the mountain, or take
on them on the shrine pilgrimages. At the great summer festival
many oshirasama-owners bring their oshirasama to attend
the morning ceremony; the figurines are stamped with the
shrine stamp and are respectfully placed on a rack in the
rear area of the complex, near the Honden (kami sanctuary).
is dressed by its owner at a festival.