I met Itsu, a local Instagram follower, for lunch at American Village and it was such a beautiful day that she took me to the Futenma Shrine afterwards! It was extra extra special because she was able to teach me the proper way to visit a Shinto shrine. I had picked up a few things from our previous shrine visits in mainland Japan, but it was fun to hear the reason why things are done.
It was the first shrine I have visited in Okinawa and I instantly realized how different it was from the shrines I’ve visited in Japan. For once, in total Okinawa style the shrine is very neutral, with mostly exposed concrete, raw wood and of course traditional roof tiles. It was a lovely change to the mostly red and colorful ones.
One of the first things she taught me is that people visiting the shrine usually walk up the edge of the steps, because they believe that only the kami (spirits or gods) walk up the middle. Secondly, you stop at the bachi (water basin) to purify yourself.
Here are the steps: (1) Take one of the wooden dipper in your right hand and fill it with water. (2) Pour the water over your left hand. (3) Then take the dipper in your left and pour water over your right. (4) Pour some water from the dipper into the cupped palm of your left hand. (5) Rinse your mouth with this water, spitting it back out. (6) You’re good to go!
The second thing you do is worship at the shrine. You need a money offering and it can be however much you want (we gave ¥15). You throw the offering in the box, take a step back, bow twice, then clap your hands twice. Spend a few moments in prayer, if you like. Then bow again. Afterwards you can go to the window and get your fortune! Mine was just ¥100.
Fortunes: If you get a good fortune you’re supposed to keep it in your purse until the next time you come to the shrine. If you get a bad fortune you’re supposed to tie it up on a metal wire by a tree, the idea being that the bad luck will wait by the tree rather than attach itself to the bearer. Ema: Another thing you can do is buy a wooden plaque where you can write your prayers or wishes. They are left hanging up at the shrine, where the kami (spirits or gods) are believed to receive them. I love finding and reading english ones!
The next thing we did was visit the cave that’s under the shrine! It was kind of weird because there are hospital like hallways leading up to the cave, haha!
It was the funnest day and I’m super happy to have finally checked this off my Oki bucket list!!
Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture
GPS Coordinates: 26.2928667, 127.7770667
Hours: 10am – 8pm Daily (Including Holidays)