Hatsumoude, first visit to shrine is proper way to begin New Year
The first visit of the year to a shrine or temple is an important Japanese tradition. About three quarters of the Japanese are said to be following the tradition with the first visit usually taking place on the first three days of the new year, which are days off from work to almost everyone.
During the visit, people offer one year of gratitude, and pray for safety and peace for the new year. The prayers can be made either in a shrine or temple, the difference being that Shinto religion is practiced in a shrine and Buddhist worship takes place in a temple.
There are a few rules everyone should observe when visiting a shrine or temple.
How to worship at a Shinto shrine
1) Prepare yourself. Before leaving your home to the shrine, make an effort to bathe, or at least wash your hands and face. Cleanliness is vital in Shinto.
2) Making a polite bow before entering the shrine under the torii. Often there will be a long pathway lined with toro called lanterns. After making a bow right under the Torii, follow along it.
3) Purify yourself. Stop once you reach the chozubachi, the water basin. Over the chozubachi, take the wooden dipper in your right hand and fill it with water. Pour the water over your left hand. Then take the dipper in your left and pour water over your right. Third, pour some water from the dipper into the cupped palm of your left hand. Rinse your mouth with this water, spitting it back out into the palm of your hand. You can dry your hands with a handkerchief, if you like.
4) Proceed to the main part of the shrine. It is made not to stand in the center before a shrine if possible, and bows small. If there is someone there, wait patiently at the bottom of the stair for them to finish. Depending on how large the shrine is, it may be permissible for two or more people to worship at the shrine.
5) Worship. Climb the stair. Throw your coin, often a Goyen ¥5, into the saisenbako, the offerings box. Then ring the suzu , the bell, firmly a couple times. Take a step back, bow twice, then clap twice. Spend a few moments in prayer, if you like. Then bow only once again.
6) Finish! Proceed back down the stairs. At this time, you can perhaps purchase an omamori or amulet, hang an ema, a prayer plaque, or partake in any special event the shrine might be holding.
How to worship at temple
There are some customs you need to follow when at a temple. Washing hands, donating money and checking out your luck are a few of them. Compared with Shinto, Buddhism doesn’t have complicated worshipping procedures.