Their size and the direction in which they are shaved depends on which kamuy it is offered to and what is being requested. Inaw are indispensable sticks used in Ainu prayers to the spiritual world. Inaw are offered to the Ainu gods "kamui" and used to drive evil spirits away.
Making inaw is one of the most important jobs for men. The bark of a branch is first peeled and then a knife called an "inawke-makiri", is repeatedly used to shave the wood into thin curled strips that form a tuft.
With the exception of funerals, inau were an important part of rituals involving kamuy. Because only men were permitted to participate in religious rituals, only men could make inau.
In addition to personal use, inau were also used in larger ceremonies. Ainu bear ceremonies featured a large number of inau, of all different kinds. Certain elders, known as ekashi, would also use inau in ceremonies to control the weather. Finally, inau were used by hunters both before and during a hunt to bring good luck.