Saturday, February 1, 2014

Neighborhood Shrine

Before heading out to do some errands this afternoon, I stopped by the shinto shrine in my neighborhood.  Shrines like this one are tucked into quiet corners all over central Tokyo.  This particular afternoon it wasn't very peaceful at Hikawa shrine due to maintenance and construction work.

I am by no means particularly knowledgeable about shinto practices, but here are the bits and pieces I've picked up from my coworkers.

Enter through the tori gate.

Purify yourself at the chozubachi by using the ladle to pour water over your hands,
using some of the water to rinse your mouth.

Approach the shrine.

Do you see that little table right behind the long ropes?  You drop a coin through the slots in the table and then use the long ropes to ring the bell (it's not very loud).  Next, you bow twice, clap twice and then bow again.  At other shrines, I've seen people get on their knees for the bowing and clapping, but here everyone stood.  Theoretically, you take a few moments to pray, but everyone I saw today must have been busy because they were on their way as soon as they finished their last bow.

There was a shinto priest inside the shrine, which was decorated with some beautiful carvings and paintings.  It felt too intrusive to take a picture of the inside, but here is a link to a Google image search if you're interested.

Ema or prayer plaques.

On the side of the shrine, there was a window where you can buy ema.  I've been told you are supposed to write a wish on the ema and then leave it at the shrine.  Each of the ema I saw today had an intricate drawing on one side and a wish written on the other.  Here was my favorite design, which I assume celebrates the lunar new year:

I didn't get a picture of the omikuji because they were tied to trees near the location of all of the maintenance work.  Omikuji are small slips of paper that have predictions written on them.  After you read your fortune, you tie the paper slip to a tree branch and, supposedly, this will help your fortune (good fortunes come true and bad fortunes are avoided).

I left the shrine through this side gate.  It opens out onto a residential side street.

I've visited a number of small neighborhood shrines while wandering through Tokyo on the weekends, but it's about time I start making an effort to visit the major shrines and temples.  As long as my stay in Tokyo seems it will be, I am sure that the last few weeks will leave me wondering why I didn't take more time to be a tourist while I was here.  Time to get serious!


Kate Sherwood said...

I loved reading this. Thank you for the glimpse into a beautiful place and practice.

Kate @ BJJ, Law, and Living

Paragon2Pieces said...

Thanks Kate, hopefully there will be more posts like this in the future :)