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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Shrine Rituals
Sanpai sahō
The usual way to worship in the presence of the kami (at a shrine) is to bow twice, clap twice, and bow a third time. The majority of shrines follow the guidelines set down by the Association of Shinto Shrines in the Jinja saishiki gyōji sahō (Protocol for Shrine Rites and Rituals). In the Procedures for the priest (gūjihairei) it states "When offering a tamagushi from a seated position, first lay down a straw mat, place the an and then lay down the knee-rest in front of it. Next, arise from the preparation seat, or if seated in the main seat, receive the tamagushi from the assistant (shiridori), go forward and sit at the knee-rest. Place the tamagushi on the an, bow twice, clap once and then bow again. When finished, return to the original seat. After this, remove the knee-rest, an and straw mat. In the case of standing worship, do not lay down a knee-rest, before clapping, place the shaku inside the breast of one's clothes and follow the procedure covering the seated position. When not offering a tamagushi, follow the same procedures."
       The priest is the person responsible for administering all rites and shrine affairs and the rites for worship are laid down. In this case, whether one offers the tamagushi or not, and whether one is seated or not can cause slight changes to the worship but the basic protocol of two bows, two claps and then bow takes place. These worship procedures form the standard for those followed by ordinary worshippers at a shrine, whether worshippers at festivals or pilgrims worshipping at the main building. The basic form of two bows, two claps, and a third bow is standard, but looking back, we can see that this is a postwar development, and there are numerous variations and ancient practices at various shrines. The entry on shrine worship in Shintō myōmoku ruijūshō states "There is the rite of advancing and retiring, praying shaku in hand. There is the Grand Shrine of Ise style. There is the Urabe style. There is the style of various houses. And there is the styles of various individual shrines." so we can see that there were many styles. The rites of the Grand Shrine of Ise
       The Ise style is called hachidohai ("eightfold worship") The priest bows four times standing, sits and claps eight times, ending with one light clap and one sitting bow, and then repeats the whole set twice. This is also called yahirate because of the eight claps. Another well-known and widespread style is called ryōdan saihai. In it the priest bows twice, prays, and bows twice again. This style was historically most widespread.

— Mogi Sadasumi
Offering a branch of the sacred sakaki tree (tamagushi) to the Kami.

Tokyo, 2005

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