What to do when you visit a Japanese shrine

Torii of Izumo Taisya Shrine

Hello,  I’m Kazuki Shinoda.  My hobby is to visit spiritual spots.

For example, I visited “Fushimi Inari Taisya Shrine” in Kyoto 3 years ago, “Suwa Taisya Shrine” and “Moriya Shrine” in Nagano last autumn, “Takaciho Mountain” in Kagoshima this spring ,  “Izumo Taisya Shrine” and “Yomotsu Hirasaka” in Shimane this summer.

at Suwa Taisya Shrine


Today, I’m giving you tips on what to do when you visit Japanese Shrines. There are so many customs when you try to go on a pilgrimage to a shrine.

  • You should formal dress. You refrain from wearing tank-tops and sandals as much as possible.
  • Bow once before passing the gate called Torii. This is thought to be a path of Gods. Gods pass the center of Torii , so you avoid passing the center of Torii.
  • You wash your hands and mouth, which is called “Syusui ”. There is a small house nearby Torii. If you can find this , firstly , you should wash your left hand with the right hand holding a ladle. Secondly, you should wash your left hand with the right hand holding ladle as well. Thirdly, you pick up some water with ladle and move to on your other side hand, and wash your oral. After that, you should scoop up water and tilt the ladle to wash the grip of ladle.
  • You walk on an approach to the main hall. You should avoid passing the center of approach too.
  • Throw money into the box in front of the main hole. This is called “Osaisen”. Maybe 10 yen or 5 yen is the most suitable.
  • Do the following action: swing the rope to ring a bell, bow twice, clap twice, make a wish in your heart, and bow once before leaving. But if you visit Izumo Taisya Shrine, you should clap 4 times instead of twice. It is a unique action in Izumo Taisya Shrine.
  • All that is left is to enjoy! Take a picture, buy something interesting, collect your red ink stamps in your stamp book, and see beautiful nature…

All of this might seem so difficult that beginners often get overwhelmed.

But visiting a shrine is a lot of fun. Please tell me your experiences!

Kazuki, Intermediate A

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About CCEB

We are teachers and students at the Cairns College of English and Business (CCEB). How lucky are we to work and study in the Australian Wet Tropics with the world's oldest rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef at our doorstep! We would like to share our happy posts with the world! Welcome to the CCEB space eveyone.

2 thoughts on “What to do when you visit a Japanese shrine

  1. It was good to find out about the customs at a Shrine. I didn’t know a lot even though I’m Japanese. Especially I want to know why we should clap 4 times at Izumo Taisya Shrine.

    Kazuki, we all miss you so much.

  2. Hi, I’m Sei.
    I know some customs about going to shrines, but I’ve never heard anything described in your article.
    The pictures with you are very beautiful and I want to go there.
    I know the reason why many Japanese people go to shrines.
    When I go there, I will have a purpose to pray for me or my family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *