Thursday, May 10, 2012

Buddhist/Shinto Purification Rituals

At the entrance of every large Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine in Japan, there is a special fountain that people can use for purification. Our tour guide told us how to do the ritual.

Fill a long-handled metal cup with cold clear water from one of the spouts. Pour a little over your left hand and then over your right hand. Finally, take some of the cup's water in your hand and rinse out your mouth. (For reasons of hygiene, no one drinks directly from the cup).

Now you are ready to enter!

I took these photos at the Asakusa Sensoji Temple in Tokyo. Dragon-shaped water spouts are quite common on these purification fountains.


When the purification ritual is complete, place the long-handled cup upside down on the railing for the next person to use.


Another type of purification ritual involves "lightning wands." White hemp fibre paper is folded into a zig-zag shape, attached to a wooden stick and waved around your head. This seems to constitute purification by air or energy rather than by water. Sometimes these zig-zag shapes are simply hung up in entrance ways to purify everyone who passes beneath them.

I took this photo of lightning wands at Itsukushima Shrine on the island of Miyajima near Hiroshima.


[Photos by Debra She Who Seeks]

24 comments:

Yvonne said...

Very interesting, I had never heard of the lightning rods for purification.

Elena said...

Loving the beauty of the ritual. Thanks for sharing!

Francie said...

And there are no different purification rituals for women? That is wonderful. I don't know much about Eastern religions and the role of women. ???

laurie said...

wow, thats so cool! Women should be able to do this too right?
or maybe we are so pure we don't need it!What a wonderful trip, it must have may amzing!Memories, wow,

Snap said...

Wonderful post. Wonderful trip!

turquoisemoon said...

I too love rituals...hmmm! Never seen those lightning rods. Too cool!

DEZMOND said...

you really travel a lot, Debs! Lucky lady.

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Amazing and beautiful. I really enjoy learning about the rituals of different cultures. Each one is wonderful in its own way.

Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

Beautiful photos, along with the explanation of the ritual.
It is interesting how many religions have rituals similar, in use of water or in the passing of object or had over the air around the person.
I think, underneath all the fuss, we are deeply connected. :-)
Lovely post!

XXOO~~
Anne

Travis Erwin said...

Interesting. Does the water you rinse your hands with flow back into the fountain to then be used to rinse your mouth?

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Hi Travis -- No, you pour the water over your hands outside the fountain. There's a grate and drain on the ground into which the discarded water flows.

Hi Francie and Laurie -- The purification rituals are the same for men, women and children. Perhaps other rituals exist which are gender-based, I don't know.

Steve Bailey said...

Very cool.... I love it when someone blogs about something I have never heard of before. And trust me I could use some purifying!! haha Thanks!

Beatnheart said...

love this....hey you thanks for your visit...always a joy to hear from you xxx c

Elsie said...

Absolutely beautiful pictures! I would love to travel there one day.

Suzie Ridler said...

Amazing Debra, what a journey you have been on. I love the idea of this ritual. Nothing better than purifying the spirit and starting anew!

mistress maddie said...

Now that is very intresting to know. I now know where to go when I'm ready for some purification,lol,lol,lol!

Jim said...

What wonderful symbolic rituals these are. We could have a few of these to help 'ground' us here in North America. I liked this post Debra.

Jeanne said...

That's really interesting. I have seen the lightning wands at a couple of places here in Denver and had wondered about their purpose.
I was wondering, like Travis, about where the water went after it was used for purification. And now I know. Thanx! :0)

My Grama's Soul said...

What an informative post, Debra. I have missed quite a few as of late...but hope to catch up with your doings.

Looks like you just came back from the Far East.....lucky you.

Jo

Crack You Whip said...

What a great tour! Wish I could travel more...

Makropoulos said...

Is this where you've been? Fabulous! A fascinating ritual, too, with great pictures.

Riot Kitty said...

Gorgeous.

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

I love any ritual dealing with purification..

Annie said...

Very interesting :) I would love to visit Japan one day.