What to Do When Visiting a Shrine in Japan

Learn how to perform the rituals correctly!

If you're visiting a shrine in Japan, there is a set of rules you must follow--
from the way you pass through the torii gates to the way you purify yourself. Read on to find out how to behave accordingly. 

Before passing through the torii gates at the entrance of the shrine, make sure to bow first. This is considered a greeting to the gods.

Keep in mind that the people aren't the only ones using this walkway; gods do as well.

So, stay on the edges of the path and leave the center open for the gods.

Upon entering the shrine, purify your body at the purification trough.

You'll see water flowing from the bamboo.

First, lift the ladle with your right hand.

Scoop up some water with the ladle.

Purify your left hand with the water.

Transfer the ladle to your left hand and purify your right hand.

Transfer the ladle to your right hand again and purify your left hand.

Purify your mouth with the water.


Next, hold the ladle vertically and purify the hand (as highlighted in this photo) you are holding it with.

When you have finished purifying your body, return the ladle to its original position.

Now you can enter the main temple building.

Here, you'll need to prepare coins for your offering.

Stand in front of the main temple building.

Give a light bow.

Deposit your coins in the offering box.

After depositing your coins, correct your posture.

Give a deep bow.

Straighten your body.

Give another deep bow.

Put your palms together.

Slide your right hand slightly downward. This will make your clap sound better.

Part your hands.

Clap the first time.

Part your hands again.

Then clap for the second time.

Return your right hand to its original position.

Correct your posture.

Give a deep bow.

Finally, give another light bow.

This shrine is called Ueno Tosho-gu and is located at 9-88, Ueno Park, Taito ward, Tokyo. They're open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during October to December and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. during March to September.

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