Manners at Shinto Shrines
Manners at Shinto Shrines
When you go to a Shinto Shrine you’ll see that there are a bunch of different manners that are involved in praying at a Shinto shrine. When you look at the Japanese people visiting you’ll see them doing a whole bunch of things starting out with purifying themselves and then bowing and clapping when praying. You may not know the proper way of doing things so here’s a simple guide on what to do when visiting a Shinto shrine in Japan.
When you pass through the very first torii shrine gate, which generally all Shinto shrines have at the entrance on the way to the main hall, you must bow before going through the gate. This torii gate is symbolic of the entrance to the sacred world. So in other words this is the entrance into God’s world. You must be respectful and bow before entering into the sacred world.
The next thing that you will see approaching the main hall of the shrine is the chozuya. Here you are to use the water to purify yourself before approaching the shrine. There is always a chozuya located right by the entrance of the shrine so please make sure to purify yourself right after entering. The first thing you need to do is get the ladle and hold it in your right hand. Then scoop up the water to wash your left hand. When you do this make sure that the water falls onto the ground not back into the chozuya.
Then take the ladle in your left hand and pour some of the water onto your right hand. You are supposed to scoop up water just once so make sure you scoop up enough water at the beginning. Once you have washed both hands take the ladle back in your right hand and make your left hand into a cup and rinse your mouth once.
Again, when you rinse your mouth make sure that you spit it out onto the floor. Once you are finished rinsing your mouth, tilt the ladle up so that the water flows down the long handle. This is to make sure that the ladle is clean for the next person who uses it. Make sure that when you rinse your mouth you do NOT put your lips on the ladle!
Although purifying yourself at the chozuya is foreign to most people it is really important to know what you are doing if you are going to experience this. Many people end up not doing this correctly or worse putting their lips on the ladle but this is extremely frowned upon by Japanese people.
The chozuya is also often seen at temples and there is no difference with how the purification process is done at shrines and temples so you can follow the above steps when visiting either a shrine or a temple. When you make prayers at a shrine it is different from how it is done at a temple. If you want to know more about how to make a prayer properly at a shrine make sure to take a look at part 2 of this blog.