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Japanese culture at its finest

The stunning and profoundly traditional shrines and temples are synonymous with Japan and its fascinating culture as seen by the rest of the world.

Our team spent time in Japan familiarising themselves with the culture on offer and learnt the steps visitors should follow to make sure they respect the traditions and rules of these beautiful places of worship, prayer and meditation.

The background of shrines and temples is fascinating. The two main religions in Japan – Shintoism and Buddhism. Shintoism is practiced at a shrine. The religion originated in Japan and many of the shrines have features and designs that are unique to Japan. You’ll know if you are looking at a shrine, as the Toriii archways at shrines are usually painted red.

Buddhism is practiced at a temple and comes from India. Instead of finding Torii archways, you’ll see pagoda, which are multi-tiered towers that are often associated with Asian architecture. If you see a cemetery next door, you can be pretty sure you’re at a temple.
Since Buddhism’s introduction into Japan in the late 6th Century, Buddha, the religion’s god, has coexisted with the Shinto gods.

It is worth knowing that followers of each religion worship differently, but they have lots in common too. The most important action is to Ojigi, which means “bow down".
It is very important to act calmly and respectfully when you visit shrines and temples.

Tips for visiting shrines and temples

Traditionally, you are not supposed to visit a shrine if you are ill, have an open wound or are in mourning because these are considered causes of impurity.
When entering a temple, you may need to take off your shoes. Either leave your shoes on the shelves at the entrance or take them with you in plastic bags provided at some temples. Remember to wear nice socks and remove any hats you may be wearing!
Photography is often forbidden inside temple buildings but is usually permitted on the temple grounds. Keep an eye out for signs.