Happy New Year everyone!
How did you celebrate the New Year?
The beginning of the New Year, oshogatsu, are the most important annual holidayｓ for Japanese people. There are several traditional customs we perform during oshogatsu, and hatsumoude should be ranked at the top of the must-do list. The term literally means "first visit". People traditionally make their first visit of the year to shrines and temples.
If you've ever visited temples and shrines in Japan, you might have noticed that the way people worship is slightly different depending on where they make a wish. If you haven't, don't worry, even some Japanese people don't give a damn about it.
This time, I'd like to show you how we worship at shrines and temples... with pictures!
STEP 1: Wash both of your hands and rinse your mouth at a chouzuya to purify your body before approaching a god or Buddha. Don't forget to purify the handle of the water ladle at last.
STEP 2: Put a money offering into an offertory box. (No amount is set) If there is a bell hanging down, ring it.
In the case of a shrine...
STEP 3: Bow deeply and slowly twice.
STEP 4: Clap your hands twice.
STEP 5: Pray with your hands together.
STEP 6: Bow deeply once more.
In the case of a temple...
STEP 3: Bow deeply and slowly once.
STEP 4: Pray with your hands together. (Do not clap your hands!)
STEP 5: Bow deeply once more.
What is the difference between a shine and a temple?
This is actually a good question that many Japanese may struggle to answer (in a foreign language, especially). They could look pretty similar and even be built within the same area (literally next to each other). The answer to the question is easy and simple: a shrine is a place for Shinto (Japanese indigenous religion) worship, and a temple is a place for Buddhist worship. So the question is equivalent to asking the difference between a church and a mosque. So clear and simple. Unfortunately though, the simple answers may not always be the best answers. Some historical complications can explain the ambiguities of the differences between those two religious institutions.
OK. Let me try to break it down next time. Explaining this kind of religious stuff is so hard, you know...