A bell that rings when you visit a shrine
There is a bell at the worship hall in a shrine. When people pray, they ring the bell after putting some coins in a wooden box. What is this bell for, and what role does it have?
Origin is Kagura Bell
It’s a large bell hung in front of the money box in a shrine. It is made of copper or brass and pulls on the attached hemp rope or red and white string to make a sound. In fact, there is a meaning to ring this bell and make a sound. It is believed that the sound of the bell has the power of the amulet, purifying worshipers and making them godly. Also, the bell rings to connect with God and pray for the activation of the Spirit. In Shinto rituals, when a shrine maiden dances, a Kagura Bell is used to make sounds, but this is also for communicating with God during this custom. The bell that has been lowered to the shrine are derived from this Kagura Bell. This bell was meant to connect to God and also to purify the demon.
The name of the bell in the hall
The official name of the bell at the shrine is “Hontsubo Suzu,” but it seems that it may be simply referred to as a bell. Suzu means a bell in Japanese. By the way, the item like a gong at the main hall of a Buddhism temple is called Waniguchi, and it is slightly different from Hontsubo Suzu. This gong-ish item is for noticing Buddha that someone is coming to a temple to pray. Also, due to the influence of the Shinto-Buddhism traditions, there are places where the Waniguchi is hung even at shrines.
The string attached to a bell
The name of the rope or string that is pulled to ring the Hontsubo Suzu is called Suzuo. It is said that the meaning of the “O” to connect, and because it links the present world and the world of God, this name is given. Suzuo has a tuft at the end, and a hexagonal box with the dedication letter is attached just above it. There are also five colors of cloth attached to the bell, which is also a regular feature of the Kagura Bell.
A bell differs depending on the shrine
Actually, it was only after WW2 that the method of ringing a bell was established at a shrine. In the first place, the official visit to the shrine was to visit the shrine where the shrine maiden dedicates the kagura to the shrine maiden, who pays the fee and asks the priests to give a congratulatory message. We usually go to the shrine, put a donation, ring the bell, and pray is a simplified method of worship.
Shrine without Hontsubo Suzu
There is no bell in the shrines that show old worship manners, such as Ise Shrine and Izumo Taisha Shrine, which are still highly regarded. Even at shrines that don’t have a bell, applauding is considered to provoke evil spirits. Even if the manners are not entirely correct, it is the most important not to forget the religious feelings and daily gratitude for worshiping regardless of the shrine you visit. Therefore, when visiting, it would be fine if you could visit with a pure heart, following the manners presented by the shrine.