What to do at a shrine when visiting Hakone? Unspoken rules and information you should know

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A popular spot for foreign visitors is the shrine. The 8 million Gods that have existed in Japan since the ancient times are worshipped at shrines throughout the country. The way you pray to them may vary across regions, but here we will introduce to you some typical ways to do so.

 

The standard procedure at shrines at Hakone

Bow once in front of the gate

Bow slightly. The gate is the border between the huaman world and the world of the Gods. Say “shitsurei shimasu (pardon my intrusion)” before entering.

 

Walking on the path

The straight path in the middle of the shrine is the path for the Gods, so do avoid it.

Purify yourself

The purification fountain is for you to wash your hands and your mouth to purify your body before praying.
1. Hold the ladle with your right hand and scoop up some water, before pouring it on your left, and then washing your right.
2. Hold the ladle with your right hand again, and scoop up some water with your left to wash your mouth.
3. Wash your left hand again, and then your right.
4. Return the ladle.

Praying

Let’s pray properly.
1. Bow once slightly.
2. Throw a coin in a softly as possible.
3. Ring the bell.
4. Bow twice before the altar.
5. Place your hands together, with your right slightly below your left, and clap twice.
6. Align your hands and pray while placing them together.
7. Bow once again.

When leaving the shrine

When leaving the shrine, bow once towards the main shrine before stepping out of the gates.

Famous shrines in Hakone

 

Hakone Shrine (Miyanoshita Hakone Shrine)

A historical shrine that has been around for over 1250 years since the Nara period in 757, after Lake Ashi was appeased.

Hakone Kintoki Shrine

This shrine worships Sakata Kintoki, who the famous folktale “Kintaro” was modeled after, and is famous for being named after “Kintaro”.

Hakone Miyagino Suwa Shrine

Listed as an Inportant Intangible Folk Cultural Property, it is famous for its “Yutate no Shishimai (lion dance).
 Catch it on: 15 July 2016

Hakone Shiroyama Shrine

It was called Shiroyama Gongen up till the Edo period, and is a shrine where hot spring deities are worshipped.

Hakone Yumoto Kumano Shrine

Famous for the oldest hot spring source “Soyu”, or the “birthplace of the Seven Springs of Hakone”, located beneath the shrine.


 

There is no need to follow through all of the steps listed above. What’s important is to approach the shrine with a pure and spiritual mind. Soak in the atmosphere, and leave a good memory of Hakone.