Traveling tips: The dos and don’ts of visiting a shrine or temple

Many anime fanatics plan to visit shrines and temples when going to Japan because in many anime series they are a huge part or the story line, like the priest character Sheisin Muroi in the vampire anime Shiki, that works at a temple or the many shrines that frequently show up in the anime xxxHolic.

Many Anime fanatiks want to see more of the temples and shines by visiting them, to understand them better or to remember the ambiance and feeling of a shrine when they watch anime like xxxHolic again.

Before visiting a temple or shrine there are a few things we should know to better your experience and to also accommodate the feelings of the other visitors as well as the priest or staff at these places.

Shoes – It is important to remove your shoes before entering temples. Because the floors are most likely tatami flooring and wearing shoes on tatami are a major taboo, it is better to take them off. Many temples provide storage shelves for shoes or others provide plastic bags. Your shoes will be safe where you leave them.

Cameras – At some temples they will ask you not to take photos inside. This should be taken seriously so if there is such a rule posted on the walls, please respect them. Many temples have no problem with photos, and allow cameras inside. Also leave your tripod at home since most temples have banned them. It is also important to know that it is considered bad taste to photograph graves in Japan.

Smoking – Japan do not have a lot of issues with smoking but many temples and shrines prohibit smoking anywhere on their grounds. There are too many tragic tales of fires happening at temples and shrines…

Observe – Visitors to shrines and temples are mostly Japanese citizens there to worship or being tourists themselves. Most temple signs are in Japanese so observe what the Japanese are doing there and it will give you more ideas on what is acceptable to do there.

We hope this little guide is useful if you ever want to vist a shrine or temple in Japan.

Here is a beautiful educational video on other things you can do at a Shinto shrine. Enjoy the video:

Another video on visiting a Shinto shrine:

To know more about tatami floors, please read our article ‘loose the shoes’ here: