Tips for Touring Kamakura


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Tips for Touring Kamakura
What is Omikuji ?

Omikuji is a written fortune about one's future for the coming year. Omikuji offer general advice such as what direction your life should go in, as well as specific areas such as travel, business and health.
If your fortune is good, take the omikuji home as a lucky charm. If the omikuji forebodes misfortune, tie it to a tree branch in the temple or shrine grounds for extra blessings from the gods.

What is Ema ?

Ema is a small wooden plate with pictures of animals or other god imagery. Visitors write their prayers or wishes on it. The Ema are then left hanging up at the shrine, where the Kami (spirits or gods) can read them.

Goshuin & Goshuin-cho

Goshuin are temple and shrine stamps collected in a small book (goshuin-cho). The elaborate stamps and calligraphy serve as a record of your temple visit.

How to distinguish Shrines and Temples

Shrines can be easily identified by their "torii," a large yet simple gate usually made of stone or vermilion-painted wood, indicating the entrance to the sacred grounds. Temples, on the other hand, have a more decorative, roofed gate, often protected by frightening monsters on either side, protecting the temple precincts.

How to pray at a Temple
How to pray at a Temple

(1) Bow once before entering the main gate.
(2) Bow once, pray.
(3) Step outside the gate, turn and bow toward the alter, then leave.

How to pray at Shrine
How to pray at Shrine

First of all, bow before you enter the shrine gate.
After stepping into the path called Sando, you should walk on the side of the path. Because it is believed that deity walks in the middle of the path. Wash your mouth and hands to purify before approaching the shrine.

How to purify your hands and mouth
(1) Take a ladle with your right hand and scoop water, then pour it over your left hand.
(2) Switch the ladle to your left hand and wash your right hand.
(3) Switch the ladle to your right hand again and pour water into your left palm.
(4) Wash your mouth with the water.
(5) Wash your left hand with the remaining water.
(6) Hold the ladle vertically to wash it and put it back.

Praying etiquette to Kami
(1) Put some coin into the offering box (Saisen box) at the main shrine building.
(2) Ring the bell.
(3) Bow twice deeply.
(4) Clap your hands twice.
(5) Bow once more deeply.