What to do at a Shinto shrine (Shinto part 6)


Finally now you are inside the shrine gate, had your hands and mouth cleaned as preparation, but what are you now supposed to do? In case there is a bell, ring it, as the sound of it will call the Kami to the shrine. Otherwise the form of the prayer is always the same: Most likely you ask for support or protection of the available Kami, or then just pray whatever pops up in mind. Next two deep bows, two claps with the hands in raised position about the level of the chest, again a deep bow, followed by a slight bow and then the rite is over.
Don’t miss the opportunity to look into the future before leaving the shrine with a “omikuji”! Most worshippers stop at a stall where postcards and charms are available. There you have to look for a box containing numbered sticks. For a small amount of money and after shaking the box, you can draw a number and receive a printed oracle. This omikuji telling paper slip tells what fortune or misfortune lies ahead. Predictions range from daikichi (“great good luck”) to daikyo (“great bad luck”). By tying afterwards the piece of paper around a tree’s branch or the provided rack, good fortune will come true or bad fortune can be averted.
Charms are another interesting topic at the shrine. Each charm called omamori has a different benefit, with the most common listed below:

– Traffic Safety
– Business Success
– Educational Success: especially popular during exam season
– Safe Delivery for pregnant women
– Health

Generally it is said the benefit of omamori lasts one year. Most important is, do not open the omamori and peak inside! Not only will you lose the benefit of omamori, but it is considered very disrespectful to the Kami.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)

Do note further related readings to be found at:

Shinto part 1:

Shinto part 2:

Shinto part 3:

Shinto part 4:

Shinto part 5:

Shinto part 7:

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