This name tag came from an old Japanese custom of visiting a thousand shrines to show one’s piety. The visitors would write their name and address or wish on a placard and attach it to a pole or the ceiling of the visiting shrine as a token of their visit.
The card was normally rectangular and made of paper, but there were also plates made by wood or by brass. This custom of visiting a thousand shrines became so popular during the Tenmei period (1781 – 1789) of Edo era, that they started creating different pilgrimages to different sets of shrines. Originally, the visitor’s name would be hand-written, but later, it evolved to include wooden prints and artistic carving.