Shrines Adopting Virus Countermeasures before New Year's Visits
Tokyo, Dec. 19 (Jiji Press)--With many Japanese people planning New Year's shrine visits to pray for a better year after coronavirus-ridden 2020, shrines and temples around the country are adopting measures to curb risks of novel coronavirus infections.
After the coronavirus outbreak began, many Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples removed their "hishaku" ladles for washing hands and "suzunoo" ropes for ringing bells, as infected visitors might spread the virus to others through contact with the items.
Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto, western Japan, replaced its suzunoo in June with a speaker that plays the sound of bells when visitors pass their hands over a sensor.
The shrine is considering removing the speaker over the New Year's period, when many people are expected to come, as the novelty of the tool may attract visitors and raise infection risks.
Ikuta Shrine in Kobe, western Japan, has introduced a system of minimizing contact for "omikuji" fortunes. Instead of drawing numbered sticks from a box, visitors can scan a quick response, or QR, code with their smartphones to draw a number virtually, which they can show shrine workers to receive paper fortunes.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]