How to Worship at Shrine
Japanese people have customs to worship at a shrine at New Year (Hatsumode), after a baby was born (Omiyamairi), and when a child becomes 3, 5, and 7 years old (Shichigosan). In addition, when having a favor to ask the god, such as passing exams, marriage, and recovery from disease, or wishing to purify their mind, the people visit a shrine and clasps their hands in prayer. Also, many people have a wedding ceremony at shrine. They swear in front of the god to become a husband and a wife.
In addition to major shrines, such as Ise Jingu Shrine, Meiji Jingu Shrine, and Izumo Taisha Shrine, there are various sizes of shrines everywhere across Japan. Regardless of what kind of faith you have, anyone can easily visit a shrine. Why don’t you stop by and worship if you see a shrine? In recent years, more shrines have been receiving attention as a power spot in Japan. Especially, it is recommendable for those who feel that their mind is weakening a little. However, there are some easy rules for worshipping at shrine. On this occasion, let’s worship following the rules.
First, tidy yourself and take off a hat before you go through Torii. Bow down lightly and enter the precincts. The precincts are a space of God. Bowing down means telling the god “sorry to disturb you.” As the center of an approach path is where God passes, you have to walk slowly on the side of the path. After a while, there is a place called "Chozuya". As there is a custom of purifying yourself before worshipping, you wash your hands and rinse your mouth. The way to purify is as follows.
1. There is a ladle like a big spoon called “Hishaku” at Chozuya. Put water into the Hishaku, and clean your left hand first, then right hand.
2. Next, receive water in the palm of your left hand, rinse your mouth with that water, and put water again on your left hand used.
3. Purify the used Hishaku by holding it vertically to make water go along its handle, and return it to its original position.
As the god has sat deep inside a main hall, people usually worship at a hall of worship. Straighten your posture first in front of the hall of worship. Toss offerings of money, “Osaisen”, (Although it is said that 5 yen (Goen) coin brings luck because “Goen” commonly means having a tie, the amount is at your discretion. Any amount is ok) into a box (Saisenbako), and ring bells. Next, bow deeply twice to show respect for the god. Put your hands together at the chest height, shift your right fingertip slightly downward and clap your hands twice.
After that, pray while keeping hands together. Finally, bow once. This series of acts is called "Nirei Nihaku Ichirei (bow twice, clap twice, and bow once”. However, the manner may slightly vary depending on shrines. Also, it is said to be important to convey your gratitude for present happiness to the god, when making a wish.
When going back to Torii through the approach road and leaving the precincts, you look back and bow once to the main hall. This is to convey thankfulness.
When you are not sure how to do, please observe nearby Japanese and try to imitate them.