• About Jinja - Getting Closer

About Shrines

Getting Closer

If you wish to make a particular request of the kami, you may ask at the jinja office for a more formal ceremony, called a gokito, which is held in the prayer hall. If a jinja is staffed, the jinja office is normally close to the prayer hall.

Most priests only speak Japanese, but they may have prepared ways to organise gokito with people who do not.

You must make an offering for a formal gokito. These days, this is most often an offering of cash, which you should give to the priests while arranging the gokito. The amount of the offering depends on the jinja and the gokito, and the staff will indicate an appropriate amount.

Many Japanese offer a few thousand yen, or a few tens of thousands on particularly special occasions.

In theory, a gokito can be for anything, but common requests include the following:

  • Safe travel
  • Success in studies
  • Good health
  • A happy home
  • Business success
  • New relationships (romantic, business, career, etc.)

Japanese families often bring new babies to their local jinja, for a ceremony called hatsumiyamairi (“first jinja visit”), or young children, aged three, five, or seven, for a ceremony in autumn called shichi-go-san (“seven-five-three”). You may see these if you visit a jinja.

It is also possible to have a ceremony performed to pay formal respects to the kami without a specific request.

At most jinja, you will have to wait for a while before your gokito: either the priest needs time to prepare, or you need to wait for another group of people to finish.

It is normal to remove your shoes before entering a traditional Japanese building, and most jinja are very traditional. However, there are exceptions, so you should follow the instructions of the priests.

Most jinja would prefer you to be dressed smartly, at least with long sleeves and trousers or skirts, for a gokito. If your clothes are too inappropriate, it may not be possible to have a gokito performed.

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