Pray as the Japanese Do

Pray as japanese people

You don't pray...

 The two major religions in Japan, Shintoism and Buddhism, have a few ritualized gestures to satisfy the gods.

Here are some tips to get it right!



Temple in Japan

Shinto Shrines


Shinto shrines are easily recognizable: the entrance is marked by a torii gate, a high door, often made of wood and painted with a bright red color, or, more uncommonly, made of stone.
The most famous example is probably the Miyajima torii with its huge legs in the water when the tide comes into Hiroshima Bay.

In most shrines, the sacred nature of the place is also reflected in the shimenawa, a big braided rope that is placed around trees.


Buddhist Temples


Buddhist temples themselves are characterized by an entrance bigger than a torii, guarded on either side by statues (nio) who ward off evil spirits. 

These places of worship also house a reproduction of  Buddha, such as the massive one found in Todaiji in Nara.



Shinto torii mark the separation between the world of humans and the gods. In addition, visitors must bow in the crossing. A temizuya, a fountain, is made available to visitors to purify themselves.
Use the lade to first rinse the right hand, then the left, and finally the mouth. Note however to spit in the basin for this purpose and to rinse the lade when you are finished.


The Time for Prayer

In a Shinto shrine, prayer follows a specific pattern.
First, put a coin in the box (a big red box at the entrance of the honden, the main building) and ring the bell. You bow and tap clap your hands twice to make your presence known to the local deity. After the moment of silence, bow one last time. 

The approach is similar in a Buddhist temple, except that they do not clap their hands. There may also be incense sticks available in the temple as an offering. Do not hesitate to sprinkle a few ashes on your head or body-- incense smoke is believed to have therapeutic and purifying properties.

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