Shinto shrines, one of the best places for many Japanese to pray for good health and safety, have largely shuttered during this pandemic situation.
But Onoterusaki Shrine in downtown Tokyo was live streaming prayers on Twitter during the period of May 1-10, allowing those stuck at home to join rituals.
The shrine also accepted worshipers’ messages, which were printed on a virtual wooden tablet and offered to Shinto gods to keep away evil spirits and the epidemic.
Shinto is Japan’s indigenous religion that dates back centuries and it literary means “the way of kami,” which refers to Shinto gods or spirits. It’s a form of animism that believes in sacred spirits residing in living things and nature, including wind, rain, mountains, trees, rivers and fertility.
Purification is key to Shinto rituals to keep away evil spirits. Worshipers can also make a wish for traffic safety, good health, success in business or exams, safe childbirth and many other things.
“I thought about how people can pray and have a peace of mind at a time everyone is feeling uneasy about all the news and going through major changes in their life but still cannot go out to pray,” said the Head Priest Ryoki Ono. “The idea is to provide a chance for people to pray from home.”
For Ono, praying in the sacred shrine is still better. He said he hoped people will visit the shrine for a real experience when it reopens. The shrine ended the online prayers last Sunday to prepare for its upcoming annual festival.