Shrines and Temples – Etiquette

Shrines are places of worship in the Shinto religion, an ancient faith indigenous to Japan. Shrines usually have torii gates (two pillars with two cross bars) at the entrances to their grounds, and jagged paper emblems or symbolic ropes in front of the altars. Temples, on the other hand, are Buddhist. They are often marked on maps with a symbol resembling a backward swastika. Sometimes, both are present on the same grounds. These are places of worship, so dress appropriately (no bare shoulders or short shorts), and behave respectfully. When entering certain locations, visitors may be asked to take off their shoes. Look for signs requesting this, or shelves where shoes may be left. Some temples and shrines allow photography. Others do not. Check for signs. If unsure, be courteous and ask before taking pictures, especially of interior areas. Louise McCormack

If you like, you can participate in the rituals worshippers practice when they go to a shrine:
Pass under the torii gate and walk through the ‘sando’ or approach to the shrine. At the hand-washing (or purification) stone basin, wash your hands thoroughly. With a dipper, pour water into the cupped hand and then bring the water to the mouth, gargle but do not swallow. Do not bring the dipper directly to the mouth. Advance before the god enshrined. Throw coins or paper currency into the offering box. The worshipper then bows deeply two times. After that, they clap their hands twice and then make a deep bow once more.

Worshippers at a Temple will often burn incense (osenko) in large incense burners. They are purchased in bundles, then lit, allowed to burn for a few seconds and then the flame is extinguished by waving the hand rather than by blowing them out. Finally, the incense is put into the incense burner and some of the smoke is fanned towards the worshipper as the smoke is believed to have healing power. For example, fan some smoke towards your shoulder if you have an injured shoulder.

Area Churches with Services in English

Check at the base chapel for more services and points of contact.
Kanto Plains Baptist Church     042-551-1915
New Light Fellowship         042-553-8040
Tokyo Baptist Church         03-3461-8425
Yokota Baptist Church         042-553-2577
Apostolic United Pentecostal Church     042-553-1159
St. Alban’s Anglican/Episcopal Church     03-3431-8534
Yokota Christian Center         042-551-4772
Yokota Church of Christ         227-6028
Calvary Conservative Baptist Church     042-557-0654
Saint Anselm’s Benedictine Priory (Roman Catholic)     03-3491-6966
St. Paul International Lutheran Church, Tokyo         03-3261-3740
Independent Church of Deliverance             042-552-9679
Franciscan Chapel Center (Roman Catholic)         03-3401-2141/2142
Tokyo Union Church                     03-3400-0047
Tokyo International Church of Seventh-day Adventists     03-3402-1517

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