Woman is using the water purification fountains at the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

Woman is using the water purification fountains at the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

At all Shinto shrines and temples, worshippers and casual visitors are asked to purify themselves (Harai) of impurity before praying to the Shinto deities. The act of cleansing is called Misogi, and the actual washing of hands and mouth with water is called Temizu.

The protocol is thus: take one of the ladles provided, fill it with fresh water and rinse both hands. Then transfer some water into your cupped hand, rinse your mouth and spit the water beside the fountain. You are not supposed to transfer the water directly from the ladle into your mouth or swallow the water. Quite a few visitors skip the mouth rinsing part or the purification ritual altogether.

More images: Gallery of Tokyo Stock ImagesJapan Stock Photography.

Ilya Genkin is a Sydney, Australia photographer whose subjects include the Pacific coast, Australian outback and deserts, rainforests, lakes and rivers, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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