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Worshipping at Japan's Shrines!

The video "[Shrine visiting etiquette] The proper way to pray" ([神社参拝の作法]拝礼の仕方), is a video introducing shrine praying etiquette. It was produced by the official channel of the Tokyo Shrine Agency.

The grounds of a shrine are a very sacred place where the gods are present, so it is important to follow the rules of worship.
If you don't know proper shrine etiquette, check out this video on the "Ni-rei, ni-hakushu, ichi-rei" (two bows, two claps, and a third bow) custom, one of the basics of shrine etiquette.
Watch this video to learn about Japan's unique culture and etiquette and enjoy your visit to Japan even more!

"Two Bows, Two Claps, and a Third Bow"

Image of a woman visiting a shrine
Photo:Woman visiting a shrine

The method of worship at a shrine is generally referred to as "Two Bows, Two Claps, and a Third Bow."
The origin of this practice is unclear, but it's believed to have become common after the Pacific War.

First, pass through the torii gates and follow the approach to bow in front of the shrine and place your money in the offering box.
If there is a bell, ring it lightly using the rope
This can be seen at 0:27 in the video.

From there, facing the shrine, bow deeply twice, with your hands on the front of your thighs.
Following this, place your hands together in a standard praying position, withdraw the right hand slightly towards your body, and then clap twice. After the second clap, with your hands still together in the praying position, slide your right hand back to its original unwithdrawn position.

Finally, after one last deep bow and prayer, give one more light bow and step back.
In addition to this standard method of worship, there is a special way of worshipping at shrines, called "Tamagushi-hairei."

Rules and Precautions When Visiting Japan's Shrines

Image of toro at Kifune shrine
Photo:Toro at Kifune Shrine

Many people visit shrines in Japan to pay their respects.
In addition to making wishes and receiving good luck charms, many people go to shrines to collect red seal stamps for their seal stamp book, and to visit power spots.
During shrine visits and festivals, the shrine grounds are full of people.

When visiting a shrine, you are in the presence of gods, therefore, it is respectful not to wear flashy clothing.
It is also important to check worship hours in advance.

Wrap-up of Visiting Japan's Shrines

By the way, I'm sure some of you may have experienced rain when visiting a shrine. This is actually considered to be a sign of the gods welcoming visitors to the shrine.

If you weren't able to catch everything in the first go-around, the video demonstrates the process a second time at 1:20 in the video.
When visiting a Japanese shrine with a long history, it's important to know proper etiquette.
When you visit a shrine in Japan, do your best to follow proper etiquette. Don't worry about getting everything right though. As long as you're respectful, people will understand.

There are many people, including Japanese, that don't know proper etiquette for visiting shrines.
By watching the video and learning how to do it properly, you can feel like a master of Japanese culture and enjoy your visit to Japan even more!

【Official Website】Tokyo Shrine Agency

Written By
Sep. 15, 2020
坂崎 なお(Nao Sakazaki)
Interested in Japanese culture and traditions! I'll be introducing lovely scenery to you!
“Two Bows, Two Claps, and a Third Bow”: The Basics of Praying at Japan’s Shrines!
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