Buddhist/Shinto Purification Rituals

At the entrance of every large Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine in Japan, there is a special fountain that people can use for purification. Our tour guide told us how to do the ritual.

Fill a long-handled metal cup with cold clear water from one of the spouts. Pour a little over your left hand and then over your right hand. Finally, take some of the cup's water in your hand and rinse out your mouth. (For reasons of hygiene, no one drinks directly from the cup).

Now you are ready to enter!

I took these photos at the Asakusa Sensoji Temple in Tokyo. Dragon-shaped water spouts are quite common on these purification fountains.

When the purification ritual is complete, place the long-handled cup upside down on the railing for the next person to use.

Another type of purification ritual involves "lightning wands." White hemp fibre paper is folded into a zig-zag shape, attached to a wooden stick and waved around your head. This seems to constitute purification by air or energy rather than by water. Sometimes these zig-zag shapes are simply hung up in entrance ways to purify everyone who passes beneath them.

I took this photo of lightning wands at Itsukushima Shrine on the island of Miyajima near Hiroshima.

[Photos by Debra She Who Seeks]