How to Worship at a Shinto Shrine
Yasukuni JinjaAre you planning on visiting ajinja(shrine)? Perhaps you
are just interested in learning more aboutShinto. This article will tell
you how to worship at a Shinto shrine.
1Prepare yourself. Before leaving your home to the shrine, make an effort
to bathe, or at least wash your hands and face. Cleanliness is vital in
2Enter the shrine under the torii. Often there will be a long pathway
lined withtoro(lanterns). Follow along it.
3Purify yourself. Stop once you reach thechozubachi(water basin). Over
thechozubachi, take the wooden dipper in your right hand and fill it with
water. Pour the water over your left hand. Then take the dipper in your
left and pour water over your right. Third, pour some water from the
dipper into the cupped palm of your left hand. Rinse your mouth with this
water, spitting it back out into the palm of your hand. You can dry your
hands with a handkerchief, if you like.
4Proceed to the main part of the shrine. If there is someone there, wait
patiently at the bottom of the stair for them to finish. Depending on how
large the shrine is, it may be permissible for two or more people to
worship at the shrine.
5Worship. Climb the stair. Throw your coin (often ahyakuen) in to
thesasenbako(offerings box). Then ring thesuzu(bell) firmly a couple
times. Take step back, bow twice, then clap twice. Spend a few moments in
prayer, if you like. Then bow again.
6Finish! Proceed back down the stairs. At this time, you can perhaps
purchase anomamori(amulet), hang anema(prayer plaque) or partake in any
special event the shrine might be holding.<
If you aren't sure what to do, copy any other people around. No one will
get upset with you if you make mistakes, especially if you look like a
Often shrines have smaller auxiliary shrines on the same premise. Feel
free to worship at those as well.
If you are fortunate, you might be able to witness a wedding taking place
at the shrine.
There are variations in how to worship. Please don't take this as any
more than a general guide.
Be respectful. A foreigner being disrespectful gives all foreigners a bad
When rinsing your hands and mouth make sure the water does not go back
into the basin with the clean water.
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