Views Insider’s Guide to Shintō Shrines
“Temizuya”: The Cleansing Ritual

Toya Manabu [Profile]

[2016.07.19] Read in: 日本語 | FRANÇAIS | ESPAÑOL | Русский |

The temizuya at the entrance to the shrine's innermost grounds is a place to purify the body before entering. Here worshippers wash their hands and mouth with the cool, flowing water in an act of ritual purification.

Continuing along the sandō, we come to the temizuya, situated just in front of the last torii gate, where you will find clear, running water. Before proceeding to the haiden, worshippers stop here to wash their hands and rinse their mouths in an act of ritual purification. This is a simplified, abbreviated version of misogi, the full-body purification rite still practiced by devotees. Originally such ablutions were performed at natural springs or waterways within the shrine grounds, and this is still the case at Ise Shrine, where worshippers cleanse themselves with water from the Isuzu River.

Shintō Cleansing Ritual

The entire process should be performed with a single dipperful of water.

Taking a hishaku dipper in your right hand, scoop some water from the basin and pour a small amount over your left hand.

Switch the dipper to your left hand and pour a little water over your right hand.

With the dipper in your right hand, pour a little water into your left hand and use it to rinse your mouth.

Once again, pour a little water over your left hand. Then turn the dipper upright so that the remaining water rinses the handle. Finally, empty the dipper completely and return it to its place.

Nogi Shrine, Tokyo

Ōmiya Hachiman Shrine, Tokyo

Izumo Taisha Shrine, Shimane Prefecture

“Temizuya”: The Cleansing Ritual (video)

(Banner photo: Temizuya at Izumo Taisha Shrine, Shimane Prefecture. Video produced with the cooperation of Nogi Shrine, Tokyo.)

▼Further reading
Your Virtual Guide to the Shintō Shrine (Series Top) Izumo Taisha Shrine: The Ancient Meeting Place of the Gods (Photos) A Year in the Life of Ise Shrine (Photos)
Japan’s Religious Ambivalence: The Shaping and Dismantling of a National Polity The Japanese World View: Three Keys to Understanding “Kami”: The Evolution of Japan’s Native Gods
  • [2016.07.19]

Writer and Shintō priest. Born in Saitama Prefecture. Graduated from the Department of Shintō Studies at Kokugakuin University. Author of Shintō nyūmon (Introduction to Shintō), Fuji-san, 2200-nen no himitsu (Mount Fuji’s 2,200-year Secrets), and other works.

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  • “Shōzoku”: The Shintō VestmentsThe clothing worn by priests and priestesses at Shintō shrines is unlike anything you will see elsewhere in Japan. Here we describe the styles of traditional vestments that are part of the Shintō experience.
  • “Shamusho”: The Shrine OfficeWhen not engaging in religious rites, priests and shrine personnel may rest in the shamusho, or shrine office. Here visitors can also obtain talismans to protect their homes and selves with the blessing of the shrine’s kami.
  • “Shintai, Shinboku”: The Divine Object or TreeAt the heart of the shrine, never viewed by visitors, is the shintai, the “divine body” of the kami. At some shrines this is an object, like a jewel or sword; at others, it is a natural feature like a mountain or shinboku, a divine tree.
  • “Honden”: The Main Sanctuary StructureThe structure called the honden is the heart of the Shintō facility, where its kami is enshrined. Observing the details of honden architecture can tell the visitor much about the nature of the shrine and its deity.
  • “Tamagaki”: Fence Around the Sacred SpaceA fence called the tamagaki encloses the shrine's innermost sanctum, setting it off from the outside world and marking a border between the sacred and the profane. Some shrines feature more than one tamagaki, which in its earliest form was a living hedge surrounded by a brushwood fence.

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