Translated by Miki Takeshita
Chozu - How To Purify Yourself Before Visiting A Shrine
Written by Takuro Komatsuzaki
Purifying yourself is a very important step to take before making any prayers or offerings at a temple or shrine in Japan. Take a look at these simple but necessary steps how to correctly cleanse yourself.
Have you ever wondered what the water basins at the entrance of a shrine or temple are for? Let's find out!
What is Chozu?
Chozu (cleansing yourself) is the customary way to clean or purify yourself before making any prayers at shrines or temples in Japan.
The Chozuya is the large basin with special wooden dippers that is usually located at the entrance of shrines and temples. It is customary for visitors to purify themselves here before stepping on sacred grounds.
How to Purify Yourself
1. Take the wodden dipper in your right hand and scoop up some water.
It has to be your right hand! The order is very important
2. Wash your left hand.
Poor the water slowly over your left hand. Make sure it doesn't splash too much.
3. Change the dipper to your left hand, and wash your right hand.
Make sure to not touch your purified left hand with your right hand as it is not purified yet. Now scoop up some water and slowly poor it over your right hand.
4. Change the dipper into your right hand again, and rinse your mouth with your left hand.
Fill up the dipper again if necessary. Be careful not to touch the dipper with your lips. First pour the water into your left hand, and then rinse your mouth.
Spit it out on the rocks below. Be careful not to spit it in the basin!
5. Wash the handle of the dipper.
It is important that you leave a clean dipper for the next person.
6. Put the dipper back on the basin, scoop side down.
Be careful not to drop it on the ground while you do it.
Knowing How to Purify Yourself is Very Important
When visiting shrines or temples, it is important to follow the etiquette expressed here. This is done not only to demonstrate an interest in the culture, but also for the religious beliefs of others.