“Go to Shrine” Culture in Business in Japan

Go to a shrine with your colleagues…?

There are a lot of shrines in Japan. Do you know as a unit of company, people in Japan also visit a shrine regularly?

When I worked in a sales company, every first work day of the new year, our team members would gather together in front of a shrine instead of the office, to pray for a smooth year with more deals ahead. In Tokyo, Kanda Myojin, which is located close to the ACG(Animation, Comics, Games) paradise Akihabara, is one of the most famous shrines for business. The basic plan is to pray with your colleagues and then buy a charm(お守り) . The advanced one is to pay a 初穂料 (hatsu ho ryou, usually the paper money in an envelope for the shrine) so that you could attend the praying ceremony inside the worship hall. Then the Shinto priest will sing the scripture and mention your company and everyone’s name in your team.

So many options when choosing a charm.

There are many categories of charm depending on the purpose. A safety charm for driving safely, financial luck charm may bring more money to your new year, praying for a child charm is the best one when you are expecting to have a baby. One of the most surprising charms to me is the charm for the safety of the IT system. The other day I worked in the IT department. My manager bought it and said this could be used for praying for fewer and fewer system failures. That is quite detailed! 

Shrine and Temples are different.

In Japan, Shrine is based on Shinto religion, and the Temples are for Buddhism. Simply speaking, you are praying to different Gods. I still remember once I went to pray with my boss in a shrine, after finishing the whole praying process, I talked to my boss :”Thanks for letting me participate in the ceremony, it is my first experience of having this kind of activity in Temple in Japan.” After my boss’ correction, I started to feel worried about my luck for the coming new year…

Some companies will even buy a simple household Shinto altar to set in the office. I still remember the boss of my previous company will pray to the altar in the office every morning when he arrives at the office. It is more like a form to motivate yourself to have a brand new start no matter what bad things happened yesterday. So I suggest if you face some difficulties in your work in Japan, you could pay a visit to a Shrine to refresh your mind. Not only for praying, but also for the beautiful architecture and trees. Maples in autumn, hydrangea flowers in summer, colorful Emas (wooden plaques that people write their prayers or wishes on), the scenery in different Shrine in Japan always gives me a lot of healing power.