How to visit a shrine
Sando (path to a shrine)
There is necessarily a "torii (gateway to a shrine)" at an entrance of a shrine. Traditionally, you may approach the shrine from the outer tori, called "ichi no torii". Before you walk under the tori, you need to bow lightly. It is called "icchu". When you walk the "sando", you should not walk on the center. The center of sando is called "seichu" which is the path for "kami" (deity).
Temizuya (Purification fountain)
Before approaching the main hall for the prayer, you need to purify yourself at "temizuya". At the fountain, ladles are provided. More details on the purification are below.
1. Take a ladle on your right hand and fill it with fresh water to rinse your left hand.
2. Switch the ladle on your left hand to rinse your right hand.
3. Switch the ladle again to your right hand to fill some water on your cupped left hand.
4. Rinse your mouth with the water, and spit it out beside the fountain.
5. Throw away the water beside the fountain, and place back the ladle.
* You are not supposed to transfer the water to your mouse directly from the ladle, as it is also used by others.
Offering a prayer
You are supposed to pray directly to "kami", the deity at the main hall.
Firstly, bow "icchu" once.
Secondly, ring the bells strongly in order to greet and make an announcement of your visit to "kami". Then, you may offer "saisen". You are supposed to quietly throw coins into "saisenbako (offering box)".
Finally, you are supposed to pray in the way if "ni-rei, ni-hakushu, ichi-rei".
The way to make a prayer ("ni-rei ni-hakushu ichi-rei")
When you make a prayer, you are supposed to bow deeply twice ("ni-rei"), clap your hands twice ("ni-hakushu"), bow deeply once more ("ichi-rei") and pray for a few seconds. It is a traditional way of greeting to the deity. Be careful not to clap your hands at temple, as it is a tradition only in shrines.
How to offer a prayer
1. Bow lightly in front of the "haiden (hall of worship)".
2. Throw coins (saisen) quietly into a saisen box (offering box) and ring a bell.
3. Bow deeply twice.
4. Clap your hands twice.
5. Bow deeply once.
6. Bow lightly at the end to leave.
* We call "kashiwade" for clapping hands, but it is formally called "hakushu".
* If it is unexpectedly crowded, you can skip ringing the bell.
* You are not supposed to throw coins roughly. Traditionally, it is not to throw but place it on the box.
* Normally, you are supposed to clap your hands twice, however, there are some shrines, such as Izumo Taisha that you may clap 4 times.