Etiquette Suggestions for Visiting Shrines and Temples in Japan • Simply One Cookbook


Expertise the tranquil magnificence and distinctive customs of Japanese temples and shrines. Uncover the rituals, cultural significance, and etiquette for visiting these sacred websites.

Praying at a temple

Whereas touring in Japan, you’ll undoubtedly come throughout numerous shrines and temples of all designs and sizes. In December 2019, The Company for Cultural Affairs reported roughly 84,000 Shinto shrines and 77,000 temples all through Japan.

These all play an necessary function in Japan’s historical past and tradition, so it may be fairly daunting to find out the variations and find out how to pay respect to every one, particularly you probably have not grown up in Japan and aren’t acquainted with the Japanese non secular background. To make issues just a little extra sophisticated, shrines and temples have totally different etiquette! 

Byodo-in temple reflected in water

On this put up, we wish to information you thru all the things you might want to find out about shrines and temples: their variations, a step-by-step information to visiting them, and all the things in between. First, we should have a look at the distinction between Buddhism and Shintoism.

Buddhism and Shintoism

In up to date Japan, there are two main religions: Buddhism and Shintoism. 

Buddhism originated in India within the sixth century and was later delivered to Japan by way of China and Korea. It entails the teachings of the Buddha, Gautama Siddhartha. There are numerous sects throughout the faith, together with Shingon Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism, and maybe probably the most well-known Zen Buddhism. Temples are the place monks stay, follow, and find out about Buddhism. 

They are often distinguished by their identify, normally equivalent to tera, -dera, or -ji in Japanese. For instance, Senso-ji in Asakusa and Todai-ji in Nara are simply two of probably the most well-known temples in Japan.

Shopping street leading to temple

Shintoism predated Buddhism in Japan and interprets to “Approach of the gods.” It states that gods, or kami in Japanese, are current in Shinrabansho (all the things within the universe), with eight million residing within the type of mountains, rivers, bushes, and so forth. – Whereas there isn’t a precise quantity, the determine eight represents infinity. Shrines are constructions which have enshrined these kami and typically influential figures reminiscent of emperors or shogun (navy leaders). 

Shrines might be distinguished by their names, which usually finish in jinja, jingu, or -sha in Japanese – for instance, Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Taisha and Tokyo’s Meiji-Jingu.

Fushimi Inari Torii gates

What’s the Distinction Between a Shrine and a Temple

Shrines and Temples might be outlined by their look. 

A temple’s entrance is marked by a big gate generally known as a sanmon. Sometimes, you’ll discover statues of Nio (muscular guardians of the Buddha) flanked on both facet. Transferring contained in the temple, you could have the garan, the place objects of worship are enshrined, and the monk’s dwelling quarters. Within the garan, you’ll find pictures and statues of the Buddha, the place you possibly can worship. 

Nio stone statue at a temple

A pagoda and the kondo (important corridor) are situated close by, the place a lot of the temple’s treasures are situated. 

One other distinguishing function of temples is the structure. Sometimes, they’ll have tiled roofs with an decoration(s) on high.

Golden pheonix on temple roof next to autumn leaves

A shrine’s entrance is marked by a torii gate, sometimes painted pink however may are available varied colours and supplies. The torii gate is claimed to separate the human world and sacred floor. 

On the strategy to the shrine, you’ll usually discover stone statues of komainu (lion-like guardians) with a temizuya or chozuya (water basin) to purify your self on the facet. Additional inside is the honden (important sanctuary), the place the enshrined deity resides. Not like temples, these deities are sometimes hidden and never in plain sight.

handwashing station at a shrine

Shrines favor utilizing pure supplies reminiscent of wooden and typically have thatched roofs, with chigi (distinctive forked finials) and katsuogi (crossbars).

Who Works at Shrines and Temples?

As we talked about, folks working at temples are known as monks or obosan, who give sutras and carry out teachings preached by the Buddha. 

The individuals who work at shrines are generally known as shinshoku or kannushi, who carry out rituals, firm duties, and prayers. You may additionally discover some miko (shrine maidens) who help within the shrine grounds and performances.

Japanese Shrine Etiquette Suggestions

Shrine and temple etiquette fluctuate barely, so you will need to know the right etiquette for every one.

Bowing at the torii gate before entering
  1. Upon reaching the torii gate entrance, barely bow.
  2. Enter to the left or proper of the middle of the torii gate. 
  3. Stroll alongside the sting on the strategy to the shrine.
Temizuya (water basin) covered in snow
  1. Head to the temizuya or chozuya to purify your self. Here’s a image board of find out how to purify your self.
How to use Temizuya guide
  • Decide up the ladle together with your proper hand and fill it with water. Wash your left hand.
  • Then wash your proper hand.
  • Utilizing your proper hand, scoop some water and place it in your left hand. Rinse mouth.
  • Wash your left hand once more.
  • Then, with each arms, elevate the ladle and pour a small quantity of water over it. (Examine the picture beneath).
5 yen coin
  1. On the important shrine, you can find an providing field. Put/throw a 5 yen coin in and ring the bell if the shrine has one. 5 yen is taken into account the fortunate coin. Nevertheless, a 1 or 10 yen coin is completely acceptable. 
Bowing at a shrine
  1. Bow twice.
Clapping before praying at a shrine
  1. Clap twice.
Praying at a shrine
  1. Along with your arms collectively, make your prayer.
Bowing at a shrine
  1. After ending your prayer, bow as soon as extra.
Bowing at the torii gate before entering
  1. While you go away the shrine, on the torii gate, flip round to the principle corridor and bow.

Japanese Temple Etiquette Suggestions

  1. On the sanmon entrance gate, bow barely together with your arms collectively. Step over the edge of the gate.
  2. If the temple has one, head temizuya and purify your self with the identical technique because the shrine.
Incense box
  1. Buy an incense.
Lighting the incense
  1. Mild it with the designated lighter. 
Incense placed in a incense burner
  1. Place within the incense burner and bow. Some folks use their arms to unfold the smoke over the physique in needs for good well being and pores and skin. Moreover, don’t use different folks’s incense to burn yours, as it’s mentioned you’ll carry their sins.
Placing money in temple offering box
  1. Go to the principle corridor and gently toss the coin into the providing field. 
  2. If there’s one, ring the bell two or 3 times. 
Praying at a temple
  1. Bow barely together with your arms collectively and make your prayer. Don’t clap.
Bowing at a temple
  1. After ending your prayer, bow once more. 
Temple and incense burner covered in snow
  1. While you go away the temple, on the sanmon, flip round to the principle corridor and bow.

What’s Omikuji

After praying at a temple or shrine, you possibly can decide up an omikuji (fortune paper) at one of many close by stalls for 100 to 200 yen. Relying on the shrine or temple, there are alternative ways of selecting your omikuji. 

In some locations, you possibly can shake a tube till a follow a quantity on the tip comes out. Then, you decide the omikuji within the drawer together with your quantity. 

Omikuji box

Another locations are extra simple, as you randomly take your omikuji out of a field.

Also called a “message from god,” Omikuji tells you whether or not you could have good or unhealthy luck and extra minor particulars reminiscent of cash, well being, relationships, and extra. There are various kinds of fortune, which we’ll record beneath:

  • Daikichi (大吉) – Nice Fortune
  • Chukichi (中吉) – Medium Blessing
  • Shokichi (小吉) – Small Blessing
  • Kichi (吉) – Blessing
  • Hankichi (半吉) – Half Blessing
  • Hankyoshi (末吉) – Blessing to Come
  • Suetsukichi (末小吉) – Half Blessing to come back
  • Koshi (凶) – Misfortune
  • Daikoshi (大凶) – Nice misfortune
reading Omikuji

Japanese folks normally decide up their omikuji initially of the 12 months throughout hatsumode to obtain their fortune for the 12 months. Nevertheless, be at liberty to select yours up each time you might be visiting!

Omikuji tied on a rack

Many individuals take their omikuji residence, particularly whether it is good luck, and maintain it of their pockets or purse. Nevertheless, if you happen to get a nasty fortune, it’s custom to tie it to a pine tree. “Pine” (matsu in Japanese) sounds the identical because the verb “to attend” (matsu), so the concept is that the fortune will wait on the tree as a substitute of following you residence. There is probably not a pine tree in some locations, however there’s a devoted rack to tie your omikuji.

Omamori – Good Luck Charms

Omamori, often known as good luck charms or amulets, derives from the Japanese phrase “mamoru” (守る), which means to guard. These are small items of paper sealed inside a small embroidered pouch. Typically, they’re for good luck and safety towards unhealthy luck. Nevertheless, there are a lot of various kinds of omamori for particular functions. Moreover, shrines or temples take delight of their omamori designs, so you’ll find totally different ones wherever you go! Omamori sometimes ranges from 500 yen to 1000 yen.

That is an omamori for good well being. 

Utilizing the hooked up string, you possibly can maintain your omamori wherever, from a pencil case and pockets to a key holder. 

You may maintain the omamori for so long as you need. In Japan, some folks consider these must be renewed annually. The outdated omamori is disposed of on the shrine the place it was bought throughout hatsumode. 

What’s Ema for at Japanese Shrines

Lastly, when strolling round a shrine, it’s possible you’ll discover some small picket plaques with needs written on them. These are generally known as ema and are a Shinto customized, so you’ll solely discover them at shrines, with costs starting from round 500 yen to 1000 yen. 

Ema wooden plaques with wishes written on them

You may decide up your ema on the shrine sales space and write your want with the given pen. Generally, one facet has a chunk of artwork associated to the shrine or shrine’s deity. In different instances, each side are clean, so it’s customized, however not needed, to jot down your identify and handle (as in case your want follows you residence). 

In order that’s all for our information on shrines and temples and their variations. This scratches the floor of such a deep custom and tradition, however it is sufficient to get you began and expertise them totally! Tell us your favourite shrine or temple in Japan within the feedback!

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