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Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto © Kentaro Ohno / Flickr
Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto © Kentaro Ohno / Flickr
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How to Pray at a Japanese Shinto Shrine

Picture of Christine Bagarino
Updated: 15 March 2018
Shinto shrines are a big part of everyday life in Japan. Although Japanese people tend not to be very religious, the country follows a mix of Buddhist and Shinto customs that have become ingrained in the normal day-to-day. One such practice is visiting a Shinto shrine to pray to the gods. If you have the opportunity to visit a Shinto shrine, here’s how to go about your visit.

Where to go

People in Japan typically visit shrines for a specific purpose, such as wishing for a family member’s speedy recovery from illness, or in the case of expectant mothers, praying for the safe delivery of their child.

Some shrines are associated with specific kami (deities), so visitors flock there en masse to seek the gods’s favor. For example, people may go to a shrine associated with Ebisu, the god of commerce, to pray for success in a business venture or a shrine associated with Tenjin, the god of scholarship, to ask for luck in passing their exams. Figure out what you are praying for and which god is reserved for that need before setting out to find a temple.

Tokyo Daijingu is a famous shrine for those looking for love
Tokyo Daijingu is a famous shrine for those look