Manners at Japanese Shrine

Japanese Manners and Customs

Manners at Japanese Shrine

Summary of Shinto and Shrine

Shinto is the Japanese Native Religion which worships the nature and ancestors. So, it is the polytheism. Unlike Christianity, Islamism or other monotheistic religion, the idea of Shinto is that everything has the sprits of Gods. It is more likely polytheism of Ancient Roman Empire. The Sprits of Japanese Gods have different prayer answered which based on the myth and historic note. For example, Ebisu is God for business. Japanese pray at Ebisu Shrine for their success of business.

In Shinto, not only sprits of Gods could be enshrined, but also people who had great achievement could be worshiped and enshrined. This deification is based on Japanese respect to the their ancestor, and they believe their ancestor will protect and support their life on current world. For example, some of the great scholars became the God of Learning and Education.

The Shinto Idea is directly effected Japanese identity which Japanese respect the natures and ancestors. The shrines are placed on the holly spot where Japanese believe that the Sprits of Gods are enshrined. When Japanese bow to the place as baseball players bow to the field before they play, they show their great respect to God of the place, and pray their safety for any events.

Japanese respect natures, ancestors and each other. When Japanese pray to the sprits of Gods, it is not showing the great faith to their Gods, it is showing great respects to their Gods. Japanese idea of religion is not based on the faith, but based on the respect. That's why people are not allowed to see the sprits of Gods. All the shrines are barriered in the shrine, and only priest see the sprits of Gods.

Torii Gate and Main Approach

Bow before entering Torii Gate
Please bow before entering Torii Gate. In side of the Shrine is the holly place for enshrined Gods. You have to show the respect of Gods of the shrine.

DO NOT WALK on the CENTER of Torii Gate and Approach
The Center Line from Torii Gate and the main approach to the main shrine is called "Sei-chu." Sei-chu is the pass of Gods, so you should walk the side of Torii Gate and Approach.

Water Place

Cleaning your body and mind at Water Place before visiting the main shrine

  1. take a water scoop on right hand.
  2. scoop water and wash left hand.
  3. switch scoop on left hand, and wash right hand.
  4. switch scoop back on right hand and pour water on left hand, then wash your mouth.
DO NOT Wash your mouth directly from scoop.


Take off your hat or cap

Throw your coin in to offertory box
There is no specific amount of coin you should throw. Heart is important, not the amount.

Ring the bell
You should ring the bell when it place at the shrine. The sound of the bell call God into the shrine.

Two Bowings, Two Claps, and One Bowing
This is how you should pray at the Shrine.

  1. Make two deep bowings.
  2. Make your wish in your heart.
  3. Clap twice.
  4. Make one more deep bowing.

Omamori (amulet, lucky charm)

Omamori is the amulet or lucky charm which has great benefit from the enshrined Gods
Each Omamori has diffrent benefit you will receive, and the way to treat Omamori is different. Here is the list of common benefits of Omamori.

  1. Traffic Safety - keep it inside of car, or stick it with key.
  2. Family Safety - keep it in your house.
  3. Business Success - keep it in your business place.
  4. Educational Sucess - bring it when you study or have a examination.
  5. Safe Delivery - pregnant woman should keep it, and bring it at the giving birth.
  6. Health Care - keep it in your house. If you are in the hospital, bring it with you.

The benefit of Omamori keeps one year. So, you should bring the old Omamori to where you got, and receive new one. If you are not able to return your Omamori, keep it until you might visit the shrine again.

You cannot open and watch inside of Omamori. It is not only you lose the benefit of Omamori, but it is very disrespected action to God.

Omamori is not souvenir
You should not buy Omamori like travel gifts. When you give to your friends or families, you should understand the each benefit of Omamori before you buy, and give right Omamori to right person.

Other Important Manners

TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES before entering inside of the main shrine

DO NOT TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH on the line of "Sei-Chu, the center line."
You should Never take a photograph on the line of the center line from Torii gate, approach to the main shrine. If you want to take a photo, step off from the center, then take your picture.

Refrain from talking in front of the main Shrine, especially in front of offertory box.
Also please do not disturb other prayers.

Refrain from taking a photograph during the ceremony by Shinto priest.

Shrine is not a travel spot where you can enjoy sightseeing
Please check out the enshrined Gods and benefits of each shrine before you visit. Then, visit the shrine to pray for your luck. The shrine and Shinto are open to everyone, no matter what kinds of religious background.