Description: After a funeral, people would put salt on themselves in order to keep spirits out of their home.
Background: The informant observed the ritual from his mother.
ML: My mom puts salt on herself before entering the house after a funeral.
Me: Is there a reason that your mom does that?
ML: I think it’s a japanese thing, it wards off spirits so they don’t enter your home. she sprinkles it on top of her head right before entering our house when she comes back. She tells us to leave the salt by the doorway when she goes to a funeral so she can just grab it and pour.
In many traditions, salt is seen as a way to ward off spirits. While I do not know precisely why that is the case, I have a few theories. It might be tied to salt’s ability to preserve food, linking it to an ability to ward off death and decay. Of course, the entire concept of preventing evil spirits from entering your home is a staple in not just Japanese culture but Asian culture in general. Home is a sacred place because that is where we spend most of our time. Evil spirits can curse your house and give you family bad luck. So there are often rituals such as this to ward off and prevent bad spirits from entering the home. On the opposite side, there are also rituals, such as presenting offerings, to draw in good spirits to the home and create good fortune.