Purification by water is a worldwide symbolism. According to Catholic belief: “through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God”. There is holy water at the entrance of churches. You will find a water fountains at the entrance of most Buddhist and Shinto shrines (Temizuya – 手水舎).
People go to a Shinto shrine or jinja to have a closer contact with the Spirit or Kami that resides there. They go to thank and to ask divine assistance. But a Kami can only stay and resonate in a Jinga if the space is clean. For this reason, Shinto priests must purify the place where a Jinga is built and regularly perform purification rituals to keep it clean. The avoid contaminating the place, visitors must clean themselves before approaching the altar.
Instructions for proper cleansing in in the Ikuta Jinja in Kobe are:
1. Take the ladle with your right hand, fill it with water and pour some water over your left hand to rinse it.
2. Shift your ladle to your left hand and rinse your right hand.
3. Take the ladle in your left hand again, cup the left hand, pour some water into it and use it to rinse your mouth. Do not touch the ladle directly to your mouth.
4. Repeat the rinsing of the left hand.
5. Hold the ladle vertically and allow the remaining water and allow the remaining water to run back down the handle to purify it, and place the ladle back in the basin.
Pay attention that the water you use do not flow back to the clean water.
Mythical creatures live in these fountains. The basin, the dragon, the water…all these elements create a symbol to accompany the ritual to visit the gods.