The act of praying to the gods at Japanese Shinto shrines is called “hairei. There is a prescribed manner of bowing called “Nirei Ni-Beat-Ippou”.
What Clothing To wear When Visiting A Shrine In Japan
Dress is said to be an expression of one’s heart at any given time. Even today, we are especially careful about how we dress for formal occasions. Shinto priests dress formally when addressing the gods, as if they were addressing a superior. Therefore, we should also try to dress appropriately when visiting shrines.
For formal occasions, men are required to wear a suit and tie, and women may be required to wear the same attire. When traveling, you can dress more lightly, but if you plan to visit a special place of worship, it is advisable to dress appropriately.
How to pass through the torii gate
The torii gate is the entrance to a shrine. When you pass through the torii gate you should bow first before passing through. If there are several torii on the way to the main shrine, bow at each one before passing through. Instead of bowing in the middle of the path, bow a little closer to the edge of the path.
Avoid the center of the approach to shrines.
The center of the approach to a shrine is called “seichu,” or the path of the gods. It is best to avoid this area and walk a little to the left or right.
Cleansing the hands and mouth
As you approach the shrine grounds, you will see a te-mizusha with water and a ladle, which you should use to purify your hands and mouth there before visiting the shrine. This is a ritual to purify the body and soul.
The procedure is as follows:
- Hold the ladle in your right hand, draw water from it, and cleanse your left hand. (Use water a little at a time).
- Change the ladle to the left hand and cleanse the right hand.
- Hold the ladle in your right hand, take some water in your left hand, and rinse out your mouth
- When you have finished rinsing, wash your left hand again to purify it.
- Wash the used ladle vertically up to the handle and put it back in the ladle.
Visiting a shrine
In the precincts of a shrine, the main hall is where the deity resides and the place where worshippers pay their respects is called the hall of worship. There is always a money box in the place where worshippers pay their respects, so if you do not know where the main hall or worship hall is, look for the money box.
How to Pray at a Shrine
When you stand in front of the donation box, gently place your money in the box. Since the money is an offering to the gods, do not throw the money into the box, but carefully present it.
After you make the offering and straighten your posture.
After two prostrations with your waist bent at a 90-degree angle, hold your palms together at chest level, shift the fingertips of your right hand slightly downward, and clap your hands twice.
Return the displaced right hand to the palm of the hand and pray. When you have finished praying, bow one last time.
The above is the basic way to perform the worship, but some shrines have different ways of performing it If you wish to worship in a more correct manner, it is advisable to check the method of worship at each shrine in advance or just watch someone that looks like they knew what they are going and copy them.
Leaving The Shrine
When leaving the temple or shrine, bow in front of the temple gate.