Wanderlust Japan > Sightseeing > The Difference between Shrines and Temples

The Difference between Shrines and Temples

You might find yourself walking the streets of Kyoto, only to come across something old-looking and seemingly religious in nature. At this time you might be thinking, “Am I supposed to be contemplating Buddha while taking in this beautiful architecture; or should I be thanking the many gods that made and protect Japan?” ….Or maybe you just don’t want to say something that reveals that you have no idea what you are looking at.


It’s fine! I’ll tell you a secret: half the time many Japanese people don’t even know what it is they are worshiping. I am not even kidding you. But just to make sure you don’t anger any deities on your trip, you might want to give the gods a little nod.


Now that you know what is what…It’s time to try and pay your respects!

How to pay your respects

(diagram in the upper right corner)

“Omairi” is the act of paying respects to the deity at a Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple.

At every shrine and temple there is an altar area, in front of the altar area is an offering box.

If there is a Buddha, all you need to do is make an offering and then bow and pray in silence.

However, if it is Shinto the procedure is a bit different.

1. Toss a coin in.

2. Ring the bell (there is usually a large rope attached.)

3. Bow twice.

4. Clap twice.

5. Make a prayer, or simply have some quiet reflection.

6. Make on last bow

And you’ve done it! You have paid your respects to the shrine in the correct fashion.

Try it out at every shrine you happen upon.

August 01  Category:Sightseeing Tag:, ,

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