Meaning of Pile of Salt Mori Shio (Morijio) in front of Restaurant | Hiro8 Japanese Culture Blog

Meaning of Pile of Salt Mori Shio (Morijio) in front of Restaurant

Pile of Salt Mori Shio (Morijio)

If you have ever been to Japan, you might have seen little triangle pile of salt.

Especially, right in front of the entrance of some restaurants.

It is called Morijio (Mori Shio).

Here, I introduce you this culture of Morijio.




Meaning of Japanese Word Morijio (Mori Shio)

盛り塩(もりじお) is made of 盛る(もる) and 塩(しお).

盛る is verb and it means “Pile”.
is noun and it means “Salt”.

Combining both words makes pile of salt 盛り塩(もりじお).

Why do Japanese restaurants have salt outside?

Morijio is placed to ward off evil spirit and bad luck.
But it is placed also for good business.
To draw customers, it is also used.

Actually, my image of Morijio was just for warding off evil spirits.
I myself didn’t know that was put also for prosperity and success for business.

You might have a chance to see this Morijio placed in front of the entrance of some restaurants in Japan.
But I think it is rare.

At least, I’ve never seen big chain restaurants or modern restaurants today have it at the entrance.

If you visit small private diner or ryoutei, you can see Morijio.
Ryotei is a high-end traditional Japanese restaurant and sometimes places it at the entrance.

The reason it is placed at the entrance is entrance is the place good fortune and bad fortune coming through.
Entrance of restaurant or house is seen as a border between our world and outside world.

By placing pile of salt, it can prevent bad fortune from coming in and welcome only good fortune.

Origin of Placing Pile of Salt

The origin of placing piling of salt is not certain but one of the famous stories is from China.

It dates back to about 2200 years ago when Qin Shi Huangdi unified China.

Qin Shi Huangdi lived in the city called Kanyo.
He made 3000 ladies live in Kanyo and visited them in oxcart when he had free time.

Ladies made an appeal to him by playing musical instruments and singing.
It must have been hard to get attention among 3000 ladies.

Then, a lady, who was struggled with getting his attention, hit upon an idea.
That’s placing pile of salt in front of her house.

Salt is the favorite of cow and it stopped in front of her house.
As the ox didn’t move, Qin Shi Huangdi had to visit her after all.

By placing salt in front of the house, Qin Shi Huangdi, who have never visited her house, came.

The story spread across China like by placing pile of salt attracts new customers.

Then it introduced to Japan in Nara Period (710-794).

This is one of the famous stories of the origin of Morijio.

Why the shape is Triangle?

Morijio is usually cone or octagon shape.

There is a Japanese custom to shape like a mountain when people offer something to deity.
Cone or octagon shape makes Morijio look like mountain.

And octagon shape is written as 八角錐形 in Japanese.
It has Chinese character 八(Eight) and eight is a good number in Japan.

The shape of 八 is called 末広がり(すえひろがり).
Spreading from top to down and developing forever.

Eight is seen as a lucky number.

The shape reflects mountain and lucky number, so Morijio is cone or octagon shape.

Key Point of Morijio (Mori Shio)

Quality of Salt

They say salt should be coarse salt or sea salt.
Unprocessed natural salt is better, they say.
Because it is said that sea water is effective to ward off evil.

Timing to replace Salt

At least, twice a month the salt has to be replaced.

It absorbs bad luck but when it is filled with bad luck it can not take in anymore.

Morijijo needs to be replaced two times a month such as on 1st and 15th of the month.

The number to place salt

You can place either of 1 or 2.

If you want Morijio for good business or draw customers, place just one.

If you ward off evil and bad fortune, place two.
Right and left side of the entrance you need to place Morijio.

They play a role of like making a barrier and the thoughts is said to be coming from yin and yang.

Summary of Morijio

When I saw Morijio outside, I was a bit scared, especially when I was child, as my image was it was just for protection from evil or something bad.

To me, it is like a haunted place.
If not, no need to place pile of salt.

But I realized it was also placed for good business.

And there are people who place it inside of their house, too.
They place pile of salt around bath room, toilet and kitchen as those are said to be the places which collects bad fortune.

It’s rare to see Morijio outside but if you see it, just remember what you read here.

It is placed for protection or good business.




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