Basic Shinto Rituals

Entering a Shrine[1]

            Water Purification: “Purification of the hands and mouth with water. Using a ladle and basin, pour water onto each hand. Cupping water in one hand, wash your mouth. Rewash your drinking hand and point the ladle upwards to let the watch trickle down.”

A sign explaining how to purify onesself when entering a Shinto shrine. Entirely in Japanese
Figure 1: Water-purification Instruction. Accessed 5/6/20
Photograph: https://aboutjapan.japansociety.org/shinto_shrine_purification_ritual.

            Torii: The Torii is a gate that marks the entrance of a shrine. Often, the Torii gate’s icon is used as a symbol for the Shinto religion.

Figure 2: Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine Torii, Shimane Prefecture, Japan. Accessed 5/7/20
Photograph: https://japan-magazine.jnto.go.jp/en/1605_izumo.html

            Shimenawa: A woven-straw rope that marks the boundary of the sacred area. Izumo Taisha is home to one of the largest Shimenawa and it is displayed above its Main Worship Hall.

Shimenawa at Izumo Taisha
Figure 3: Izumo Taisha’s Shimenawa.
Accessed 5/11/20. Photograph: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Jnn

            Koma-inu: Stone Lions that protect the shrine.

Komainu statue with shrine and flags behind.
Figure 4: Koma-Inu Statue, Takatana Shinmei shrine, Anjo city, Aichi prefecture, Japan. Accessed 5/11/20. Photograph: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bonguri/.

Making Traditional Items: Sculpting, Weaving, and Woodworking [2]

Figure 5: Japanese Style Originator, Episode 14. Accessed 5/9/20. Video: Netflix

            This episode of Japanese Style Originator features prominent and common shrine elements from across Japan, including a master craftsman who sculpts koma-inu, the weaving of Izumo Taisha’s famously massive shimenawa, and the production of the purification tool ōnusa.


[1]“Rituals and Symbols,” About, Izumo Taishakyo, accessed 5/7/20, https://www.izumotaishahawaii.com/about/rituals-and-symbols

[2] “Japanese Style Originator, Episode 14,” Netflix, accessed 5/7/20.