Japanese Praying at Shinto Shrines: Efficiency, Superstition and Mini-Vacations

Are you curious about the praying customs at Shinto shrines in Japan? Well, buckle up folks because this ride is about to get wild. Learn about the efficiency, superstitions and mini-vacations surrounding the practice of praying at Shinto shrines in Japan. From the frequency of praying, to the process of dropping coins in the Saisen bako, and the option to consult an oracle, this article will provide an in-depth look into the customs and beliefs surrounding praying at Shinto shrines in Japan.
First of all, let’s talk frequency. Japanese folks pray about as often as my grandma goes bungee jumping – which is to say, not very often. In fact, most Japanese only pray once or twice a year and it only takes about a minute each time. Talk about efficiency!
Now, let’s talk about the actual praying process. It’s like a game of coin slot at a carnival, but instead of winning a stuffed animal, you’re hoping for good luck. At the shrine, you’ll find a little box called a “賽銭箱”(Saisen bako, donation box) where you drop in a couple of coins, clap twice, and pray. The coins are often 5 yen(ごえん, go-yen) coins, which is a pun on the Japanese phrase “ご縁”(go-en, have a good relations).
But what do they pray for? The answer is simple – anything and everything. From passing an exam to finding a lover, it’s all fair game. However, there’s one catch – they can’t tell anyone what they’re praying for. It’s a superstition that if you tell anyone about your wish, it won’t come true. So, if you’re ever at a shrine and you hear someone mumbling to themselves, don’t worry, they’re just praying in secret.
For those with slightly bigger wishes, there’s an option to consult an oracle. Most people don’t bother reading the contents of the omikuji, instead, they rank the contents of the oracle so that it’s easy to understand. So, if you’re feeling down, don’t worry, you’re probably not the only one.
But wait, there’s more! The shrine also sells items to write down your wish and hang it in the posting area, so for those who want a little extra wish fulfillment, you can buy those items, write your wishes on them, and hang them in the posting area. Just like a giant wish tree!
So, why do Japanese only pray once or twice a year? Well, it’s simple – they don’t go to the shrine that often. The shrines advertise for people to come during New Year’s and during the summer or fall festivals. They head to the shrine in response to that PR as one of the events, buy a little something to eat at one of the temporary street food stalls, and then return. It’s like a mini-vacation, but with praying.
In conclusion, praying at Shinto shrines in Japan is a quick, easy and efficient process. Just remember, don’t tell anyone what you’re praying for, and if you’re feeling down, don’t worry, you’re probably not the only one. And if you’re ever in Japan during New Year’s or a summer or fall festival, make sure to drop by a shrine and try your luck at the coin slot of prayer. Who knows, you might just win the jackpot of good luck!



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