Travel Guide – Japan: The One about Chozuya or Temizuya – To Drink or Not to Drink?…That is the question.

You are visiting Japan and go to a shrine or temple and you notice people going to an area which looks like a tub of water and you see people drinking from it?

The thought may cross your mind… “Why are they drinking the water?”, “Is it sanitary?”, “Is it clean or will I get sick?

Those are all valid questions, after all, we are used to our way of drinking water at public locations via water fountains or water stations.

But at a temple or shrine, these water-filled basins are known as Chozuya or Temizuya and is a Shinto water ablution pavilion for ceremonial purification a.k.a. “temizu”.

You may see people drinking directly from the ladle, but here is a better way to learn how to drink from the chozuya.

STEP 1: Pour the water and wash your left hand with the ladle in your right hand

STEP 2: And then get more water (this time with the ladle on your left hand) and wash your right hand.

STEP 3: Now, get water again with the ladle in your right hand and cup your left hand and pour water.  Now was your mouth (not drinking) and then spit the water out (some people drink it from the ladle or drink the water, I’m not sure how clean the water is, so I personally, by choice, don’t do it).

STEP 4 (FINAL): And now the final step, get water with ladle in your right hand and now hold it vertically, so the water spills out of the ladle into the handle of the ladle to purify it.  This is to purify oneself before approaching the main Shinto shrine.

This is customary for purification and each shrine or temple you visit, should utilize the chozuya/temizuya to purify yourself.