1. Torii (gate)
Stand in the front of the Torii gate and make a 90-degree bow. If you have a hat or cap, you should take it off.
2. Sandou (gravel path to the main building)
Try to avoid walking in the center of the Sando way. We Japanese believe the center of the way is for the kami-sama (god). However, it is not a must for you to do. Actually, I never minded myself until now.
3. Mitarashi (washing hand hut)
Before meeting the kami-sama, you have to make your body pure at the Mitarashi.
Ladle water with your right hand and wash your left hand. Switch the ladle to your left hand and wash your right hand. Then pour some of the remaining water in your mouth with your left hand. Attention: do not touch your lips to the ladle. Put the mouth of the ladle just under your lip. After, spit the water in the basin at your feet or ditch and NOT in the place where you got the water from. This is sure to get your thrown out of the country. Finally, wash your left hand again and replace the ladle standing up letting the water run along the length of the ladle from mouth to handle. We Japanese believe that this cleanses the whole thing.
4. Oinori (praying or wishing to the god)
There are many ways to do this in Japan. It is dependent on the particular shrine or religions. There is usually a sign telling you what to do since there are a countless number of shrines and temples here. I will tell you the basic way.
First throw your offering in the box. You might not get your wish from borrowed money!
Make two bows, clap your hands loudly twice (to get the god’s attention) and make a final single bow.
My grandfather followed Izumo-Taisha (one of the oldest shrine in Japan). He would clap 4 times. I follow my grandpa’s way. Please feel free to do the same if you like.
5. Omikuji (paper fortunes)
Now is your chance to see what your future holds. There is usually a box with sticks. First pay the fee. Then shake the box until the stick comes out. Tell the priest or priestess what number is written on the stick and they will give you your fortune. Some shrines are self-service so you will have to find your fortune from a set of drawers. After you are done reading it, you can fold it up and tie it on one of the ropes or trees nearby specifically for this purpose. If it is a good one, you can take it home with you. Bad ones are usually tied at the shrine for the god to think about.
There are many food stalls along the Sando. However, you should not buy or eat anything before finishing Oinori. Since you must have finished, you can now buy and eat anything you please on your way out of the shrine.
6. Torii (gate)
Before leaving, turn to main building and make a bow again.