Charms sold in shrines and temples have their “best before” date. And much like cheese or meat, if charms pass that mark, they might start to stink. Not literally, but they might turn into the source of bad luck.
So you have to dispose them somehow. Both, shrines and temples collect them and claim to burn. Seeing piles of wood, paper, and plastic charms left by followers at the beginning of a new year, I was wondering if, maybe even hoped, they are utilized in a more ecological way.
But it seems not, and here is a proof…
On the day of Setsubun in Todaiji Temple in Nara, monks chanting Buddhist sutras set fire to a pile of “used” charms brought by visitors to the temple. The ceremony called “Kosatsu Hatsuken” (古札揆遣) takes place behind Nigatsu-do Pavillon.