Manner when visiting a shrine in Japan

I found a instructive site(http://zatsutama.net/archives/35296616.html) which teaches manners when visiting a shrine in Japan, especially Hatsumode(初詣). Some manners are new to me. Here are the instructions. Plus, I compare my behavior with those tips.


Lots of people might think they must visit to a shrine on the 1st day in New Year, or during the first 3 days at the latest. But, Hatsumode is a first visit to a shrine in the year. Hatsumode is not a thing to do on the 1st day in New Year.

It’s general to visit in the morning on a day of  these 3 days: Taian(大安), Tomobiki(友引) and Sensho(先勝) which are called Rokuyo(六曜).  It might be a long story about Rokuyo. I’d like to introduce Rokuyo someday. You can visit a shrine as Hatsumode after one or two weeks go by.
But, you should visit until then as a common sense.
I visited Hikawa Shrine on the 2nd day and Sensho day.

Deities settle in the back of a Torii gate. Before crossing  a gate, make your clothes neat, make your mind clean and bow your head slightly.
I did’t do any of these.

Refrain from making a noise in the premises of a shrine and taking pictures with excessive flash as a common sense.
I took pictures.

Walk along the edge of path. The path in the middle is for deities.
It’s impossible. Most people didn’t  conform to this manner as you can see the above picture. It was so crowded that visitors were wide-spread on deities’ path.

Purify yourself  at Chozuya(手水舎)/Ablution Building, just after entering into a premise of shrine.

  1. Hold a bamboo ladle on your right hand. Then, purify your left hand by pouring water onto it.
  2. Switch a bamboo ladle to your left hand. Then, purify your right hand by pouring water onto it.
  3. Switch a bamboo ladle to your right hand again, make your left hand round like a cup, pour water into it and rinse your wash. Needless to say, you must not touch your mouth with a bamboo ladle.
  4. Wash your left hand. Wash a handle of a bamboo ladle. Back a bamboo ladle.

I didn’t do No.4 tip.

Bow twice - Clap your hands twice - Bow once more

Bow twice – Clap your hands twice – Bow once more

  1. Straighten your posture in front of deities.
  2. Throw money underhand gently. You must not throw overhand, not to mention violently.
  3. Ring a bell in front of you. Bow at an angle of 90 degrees twice. Clap your hands twice.
  4. Put your hands together. Be grateful to deities for favors. Bow at an angle of 90 degree once more.

The above tips are called « 2 HAI – 2 HAKUSHU – 1 HAI(二拝二拍手一拝) » : Bow twice – Clap your hands twice – Bow once more.
I bowed just an angle of 30 degrees.

At last, crossing Torii/a gate of shrine, look back and bow slightly.
I didn’t do that.

That’s all. This is the perfect way for Hatsumode.
I’m far from perfect.


All-too-common mistake is to visit for making a wish.
The purpose to visit a shrine should be to deliver your gratitude to deities or to tell your pledge to deities.

A shrine is a place to discard your greed. That’s why it is a big misunderstanding to make a wish like « I want this and that ». Deities already know such a thing, even if you don’t make a wish.

Just tell your gratitude for deities in humble mind. Deities bring blessing to those people.

Ahhh, I’ve neither expressed my gratitude to deities nor made a wish before. Just empty my mind.I’ll be grateful for deities from next!!

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