onsen onsen

How to visit temples

  • 【At temples】
  • Here is an introduction to the general etiquette for a visit to a Buddhist temple in Japan. There are some exceptional cases depending on the temples.
  • 1. At the main temple gate at the entrance to the temple, facing the inner sanctuary, put your hands together and bow once.
temples
  • 2. Stop by at the water font and follow the etiquette below for cleansing yourself.
  • Hold the ladle in your right hand, and fill the scoop with a cupful of water.
  • Use about 1/5 of the water in the scoop to wash your left hand.
  • Hand the ladle over to your left hand, and with the same gist cleanse your right hand.
  • Hand the ladle back to your right hand, and cup about 1/5 of the water in your left hand.
  • Rinse your mouth with the water in your left hand. Do not put your mouth directly on the scoop.
  • Cleanse your left hand once again.
  • Raise the scoop so it is vertical and allow the remaining water to flow down the handle to cleanse the ladle.
  • Stop by at the water font and follow the etiquette below for cleansing yourself
  • 3. If you can ring a bell, ring it.
  • However, there are lots of temples where it is prohibited for visitors to ring the bell. So if there is no sign permitting it, don't do it.
  • If you can ring a bell, ring it
  • 4. When candles and incense are prepared for visiters, carry out the procedure below.
  • Buy a lantern or incense stick.
  • Light the lantern or incense. Usually, people offer one lantern or one stick incense. However the number of incense sticks changes depending on the sect - there are cases where three sticks are designated, but if there is no designation amount, one stick is fine.
  • 5. Greeting to the inner sanctuary.
  • Offer some coins (usually a coin of small denomination is fine). If there is a temple gong or other such object to ring, ring it.
  • Correct your posture, quietly put your hands together and bow once, stooping to a half bow from 45 degrees to 90 degrees. If you have a buddhism rosary, this is where you hold it in your hands. Unlike at shrines, you do not clap your hands at temples.
  • Normally you don't need to recite anything when greeting. However depending on the temple, there may be designated words (the idol's mantra, name, chant, etc). In that case, recite the designated words. At temples where words aren't designated but if you wish to know what to say, it's okay to ask a monk.
  • When carrying out a sutra reading, the Heart Sutra is commonplace, and just saying the opening chant before the sutra and the closing prayer is fine. However, in temples of the Shin Buddhism and Nichiren School sects, you must not say the Heart Sutra. Even in the case that your know a sutra by heart, holding the sutra book and reading it is the correct etiquette.
  • Bow lightly and retreat from the inner sanctuary.
  • 6. Upon exiting the main temple gate, face the inner sanctuary, put your hands together and bow once.
Upon exiting the main temple gate, face the inner sanctuary, put your hands together and bow once
  • 【Terminology】
  • 合掌(gasshou) putting your palms together in front of your chest or face
    一礼(ichirei) bowing once
    御手洗(mitarashi/mitarai) the place at shrines and temples where visitors cleanse their hands and mouth
    柄杓(hishaku) an instrument used to scoop water. It is comprised of a long rod attached to a bowl or pipe shaped vessel called a "gou"
    蝋燭(rousoku) candles which have been hardened in a cylinder, with twisted paper or string used as a wick
    線香(senkou) a fragrance that has been hardened into a stick, known as incense. It is stood up and lit, and offered to Buddha.
    献灯(kentou) a lantern that is offered to a deity or Buddha. A votive light.
    献香(kenkou) burning a scent and offering it to a deity or Buddha
    燭台(shokudai) an instrument used in the olden days for indoor lighting, and a stand used for standing candles in. Most can be carried.
    鰐口(waniguchi) an instrument which you ring using a hanging rope in front of a hall or temple

How to visit shrines

  • 【At shrines】
  • Here is an introduction to the general etiquette for a visit to a Shinto shrine in Japan. There are some exceptional cases depending on the shrines.
  • 1. In front of the torii (the entrance to the shrine), face the inner sanctuary and bow once.
In front of the torii
  • 2. Stop by at the water font and follow the below etiquette for cleansing yourself.
  • Hold the ladle in your right hand, and fill the scoop with a cupful of water.
  • Use about 1/5 of the water in the scoop to wash your left hand.
  • Hand the ladle over to your left hand, and with the same gist cleanse your right hand.
  • Hand the ladle back to your right hand, and cup about 1/5 of the water in your left hand.
  • Rinse your mouth with the water in your left hand. Do not put your mouth directly on the scoop.
  • Cleanse your left hand once again.
  • Raise the scoop so it is vertical and allow the remaining water to flow down the handle to cleanse the ladle.
  • Stop by at the water font and follow the below etiquette for cleansing yourself
  • 3. Greet at the front shrine
  • Offer coins and ring the bell.
  • Correct your posture, and bow twice.
  • Clap twice. First, put your hands together in front of your chest, slightly move your right hand to the fiont, then move your right finger forward by about one joint.   After that clap again twice. After that, put your hands together.
  • Bow once.
  •   ※If you are making a particular prayer, you should follow the chief priest's instructions.
  • 4. If you are collecting a red stamp to mark your visit, collect it after greeting.
  • 5. When retreating from the grounds, face the inner sanctuary at the tori and bow once.
When retreating from the grounds, face the inner sanctuary at the tori and bow once