Proper Etiquette for Visiting a Shrine


1.  Preparing to enter

A shrine is a place of worship and is accorded respect. Before passing under the torii to enter the shrine grounds, visitors straighten their clothing, bow slightly and gather their composure.

2.  Purifying mind and body with the water of the temizuya, or purification font

-Take the hishaku (bamboo ladle) up with the right hand, use it to scoop up some pure water, then pour the water into the left hand to cleanse and purify the hand.

-Transfer the hishaku to the left hand and pour the water into the right, washing and purifying the right hand the same way.

-Switch the hishaku to the right hand again. Pour a small amount of pure water into the cupped left hand. Bring this water to the lips, and use it to lightly, quietly rinse and purify the mouth.

Make sure that the hishaku ladle never comes in direct contact with the mouth.

-Once again run some pure water over the left hand.

- Finally, fill the hishaku with water and slowly hold it upright so the water runs down the handle, concentrating on cleansing it for the next visitor.

-Return the hishaku to its original position on its stand.

3.  Approaching the Kami (deities)

Once purified, visitors head down the path to stand before the Kami at the Hall of Worship, the shrine sanctuary itself. Walk erect, maintaining good posture, to the shrine bell in front of the Hall of Worship. Bow slightly, then pull the long, twisted rope to ring the bell and announce the presence of a supplicant.

4.  Making an offering

At the entrance to the shrine sanctuary, below the shrine bell, you will find a slotted box for offerings, known as a saisenbako. Cast in a small amount of money (coins or paper currency) as an offering, then clear your mind and still your heart.

5.  Bowing in formal worship

Keeping your back straight, and bending at the waist, offer a deep, formal bow, as low as 90 degrees. The deep bow is done twice.

6.  Supplication

In a standing position, bring both hands firmly together at chest level in a pose of prayer or supplication. Then move the right hand slightly lower (about the distance of a finger joint).

7.  Clapping

Open the hands to shoulder width and strike them together quickly. Clap this way twice.

8.  Returning to prayer position

Keep the hands together at chest level, and again align the fingers in the prayer pose.

9.  Ending with a bow

Bow deeply once again.