Sanpo (Small Offering Stands)
These small stands are used when making an offering to the gods or for placing objects during ceremonies or special events.
They consist of a tray, made of cypress or some other white wood, with a base attached.
Three of the four sides of the base have holes in them and this is said to be the origin of the Japanese name, sanpo which means"three sides."
This hole takes the shape of a sacred jewel, circular at the bottom but stretching into a triangle at the top.
Buddha is often depicted with one of these jewels that are believed that they have the power to make various wishes come true.
Today, they are no longer very common and apparently an increasing number of young people do not even know what they are, but they are useful for the moon-viewing festival in September, when they are used to hold small, round cakes, or during the New Year holidays, when people place double rice cakes on them.
They are also used during the child-naming ceremony,when the baby's name is written on a piece of paper and placed on a sanpo, or duringthe Star Festival, when they are used to hold decorations or a five-colored thread.
The price of these sanpo varies according to the size and materials, but it is useful to have one in the home for special events or to make offerings.