Whether a tourist or native, visits to temples and shrines are par for the course while in Japan.
While there are – usually – no strict rules aside from using common sense and exercising common courtesy (be considerate to others, mindful of property, no smoking, respect no photographing signs, etc.), there actually is a right way to perform the prayers and self-purification rites that you've either attempted yourself or haven taken pictures of other people doing.
Believe it or not, there are of a lot of native Japanese that mostly just go through the motions without knowing the proper procedure. (I only mention this to quell your embarrassment if you have ever tried and felt silly afterwards for it.)
With that in mind, here’s a basic primer to help you look like you know what you’re doing (and not upset any Shinto or Buddhist gods in the process *wink*).
AT THE WATER PURIFICATION WELL
Purify your body and mind before entering the main shrine.
AT THE OFFERING/PRAYER HALL
Case the Temples
Case the Shrines
That’s it! Now your temple and shrine visits can take on a deeper (Japan), more meaningful experience.
written by Lee Reeve
Magician, artist, professional puzzle maker; owner-operator of ABREWCADABREW. I'm also a freelance writer and editor. Did I mention magic? Wanna see a trick? Gimme your beer.
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