This page deals with items and symbols from the anime. Much of this is just my understanding and reasoning, and based on secondary sources.
When Fuse-hime was young, she grew ill. A monk, En-no-Gyouja (the equivilant to Arthurian legend's Merlin) gave her a rosary of 108 eight prayer beads. They were given to her again when she went off with Yatsafusa. At first, the characters Nyo-Ze-Chiku-Shou-Hotsu-Bo-Dai-Shin (an animal gets Bhudda's saving grace) appeared on eight prominent beads. When Fuse was shot by Kanamari Daisuke, those characters changed to the Confucianism characters Jin-Gi-Rei-Chi-Chuu-Shin-Kou-Tei (Sympathy-Duty-Proper-Form-Wisdom-Loyalty-Faith-Filial Piety-Brotherly Affection).
These were virtues of the samurai, and their importance. Fuse's rosary dispersed, and 100 beads fell to the ground. The eight flew to the winds, and would be borne by each of the Dog Warriors.
A ninth bead, the Misako, exists in the novels. It is used by Myouchin to help Hikita. When Shinbei comes, the holy power of Jin wins against Misako. The bead is given to Chudai, who uses it in the War of the Kanto Lords.
Each of the Hakkenshi carries one, which represents his talents or fate. The beads have shown how the Dog Warriors are connected, "by an invisible string", and lets them recognize each other. The beads have shown the ability to glow near super-natural occurences, harm demonic forces, and accelerated healing.
In the books, the characters in the beads disappear once the Hakkenshi make peace in Awa, and they lose their powers. In the anime, they fly away after the Dog Warriors defeat the curse.
This little guy appears in just about every episode, plus the opening credits in the anime. It signifies Fuse, her innocence broken by the curse, and just basically the good guys. We see Fuse holding one in her dreams, and that breaks when she realizes of the curse. In Aspirations of Paradise we see Hikita pick up a peony that has mysteriously appeared and entertain Hamaji-hime with it.
("passing rain") In Japan, two "magical" blades exist. These are Masamune (Mah-sah-moo-nay) and Murasame (Mer-ah-sah-may) swords. Generally, if you put the two blades in a river with floating leaves, the Masamune blade would repel the leaves and let them flow safely down the stream, while the Murasame blade would attract and cut them up. It is supposedly cursed. The blade is so inately cold, water disperses off it when drawn and exposed to air.
Ashikaga Mouchiuji presented this sword to the Shogun to prove he was the ruler of Kanto. Since the days of Genji, it has shown ownership of that vital region. Ohtsuka Shousaku Mitsumori gave the blade he recievd from the Ashikaga to his son, Bansaku, at Yuuki in 1441. When Aboshi tries to take the blade, Bansaku commits suicide and gives the sword to his son/Dog Warrior Shino. Inuzuka Shino is to give the blade to the current Ashikaga, Nariuji. However, Aboshi takes the blade, which is later taken by Dousetsu. It again ends up with Shino, however.
It's fate differs between the anime and the novels. In the anime, Dousetsu tosses the sword to Shino and it falls into the sea. In the novels, Shino presents it to Nariuji, and his filial duty is completed. More on this.
This also appears numerous times in the anime. Look at the campfire in the marsh in The Kaleidoscope. Note the door Keno "plays" in front of in Taigyuu-rou Hall. Notice the wall behind Tamazusa when she has her visons when Satomi and Kanamri attack in Dog Warriors in the Netherworld. Take a look at the smoke at the end of Aspirations of Paradise. We see the bridge during occurences affected by the curse. We see Aboshi Samojirou on it numerous times; it's like a gate to the spirit plane, and it's also been used as a mode of transportation. In Spirits, it seems a young Hikita glimpses the future through it. It also reflects super-natural happenings.
The umbrella manifests itslef as Tamzusa's presence, and the curse on the Satomi. It's kind of a super-natural conducter for her. In Cantonese superstition, spirits are usually trapped in umbrellas. When it is opened the spirit's released. Note when Shino comes out of his fever in Gyoutoku, the umbrella corrodes. In a Japanese tale, an umbrella falls into the possesion of a reclusive society. Thinking it the sign of the Sun god, they pray, and the Sun god delivers oracles from the umbrella, a sacred item. When he asks for a woman to wed, he is ripped apart.
The tree appears as an omnious sign of Hamaji, both Inuyama and Satomi. It's the tree Hamaji plays her flute and dies in front of on June 19. Also, when Sousuke and Shino fight in Kai provice (episode 10), it is backdrop. Also, it is the only tree without leaves.
When Aboshi brings Hamaji there, he says they're at the river Styx. Note the knotted rope around the stone against the tree. In Japanese supersttion, knotted ropes keep out spirits. Perhaps the stone blocks out a passage to Hell?
I'm not an expert on Japanese mytsicism or culture, so I really can't make heads or tails of these. They appear all over the series. If anyone who visits this site knows anything about the meaning, history, or reason (perhaps the people who made the episodes themselves?) for these PLEASE contact me. I like that sorta stuff. Thanks. - Dre.