Not sure what program is right for you? Click Here
CIEE

© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Study Abroad in

Back to Program Back to Blog Home

« The Fireworks! July 31st | Main | This isn't goodbye, just a "see you later" »

08/13/2012

Do's and Don'ts of Shrines

As you may know, or not.. Shrines are a big deal in Japan.  It ties into the foundation of their society and culture which is the belief in Shintoism.

Shintoism, or "Kami no Michi" from what I have gathered is defined as the indigenous spirituality of Japan and the people of Japan. It is a set of practices, to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present day Japan and its ancient past.

This belief is not so much of a religion in the way we think of it, but as more of a cultural awareness and tradition.  In this tradition, there are many Kami which are things, places, and beings which are honored and seen as gods.  For each of these gods, there is a shine built for people to pray to that specific god for what they are most remembered for if known.

In my short time here, I have seen tons of shrines both big and small, famous and unknown so here is a quick guide for them.

1) How to spot a shrine

Every Shinto shrine has either a Torii gate

Toriii



Or a Shimenawa

Shimenewa

2) Don't drink the water!  The water is meant to purify your hands before praying at the shrine, not to drink though there may be some designated drinking fountains.  Simply use the ladle to pour water over your hands and your done.

3) Try and do research before going.  Shines may become very boring to an outsider if there is no story behind it.  The fact is, every shrine has a story and a reason why it was built.  Find these out and it will make it much more appealing

American

 

Ex:  On Mt. Takao, I learned that the monster-like figures at the shrine there were supposed to be a representation of the first Americans to venture to Japan!  They were foreign and scary, so the shrine was built for protection and strength.

 

 

 

 

4) Be respectful!  Weather you are on a guided tour, or just roaming around, please be mindful of areas you can and cannot take pictures of!  Remember, while you may be there for fun, others are there for serious matters and are actually praying so please show respect!

Hidden Shrine in Matsumoto Castle **  Shirne

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment