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How to pay your Respects at a Shrine

The other day while visiting a shrine in the Kagurazaka area of Tokyo I ran across the adorable sign below that illustrates the correct way to pay your respects, or say a prayer, at a shrine.

The sign gives you a pretty good idea of the process visually but here are the steps in English.

  1. In front of the main building of the shrine approach the offering box and bow to the altar twice
  2. Then, clap your hands together twice.
  3. Lastly, bow once again before you turn to leave.

Between steps one and two feel free to say a little prayer.  Even if you are not very religious I believe that it is important to be respectful and to keep in mind that a shrine is not just a sightseeing destination but a place of worship for many local people.  I am very mindful of this and have been known to drop a yen or two in the offering box to show my appreciation for being allowed to enjoy the beauty of the shrines in Tokyo and throughout Japan.

Photo Credit: Personal Collection