Meiji Shrine Temizuya

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In traditions of many religions in the world, water is always a symbol of self-cleansing, and purification. In Christianity tradition, water is the main element in baptism. In the tradition of Hindu worshippers in India, the Gangga rivers is a holy place to purify oneself or as a means to worship the Gangga God. In the tradition in Shinto temples in Japan, one element that you often see outside of the temple area is temizuya or chomizuya, a water basin with a small water source that keeps on flowing. Temizuya is a place for visitors to clean themselves before going in to the temple to pray. This cleansing ritual is called temizu (in Japanese, mizu means water). On the side of the basin are small water dippers made from wood or bamboo which is used by the worshippers to take water.  

This is a recording of sounds near the temizuya of Meiji shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo. The Shinto shrine that was opened in 1920 was dedicated to the revolutionary leaders of Japan, the Meiji Emperor and his wife, the Shoken Empress. I recorded the sound on a 6th April 2019 evening. People were surrounding the basin and cleaning themselves there. The splashing sounds of the never ending water fountain was so soothing. Meanwhile, as they were cleansing themselves the people was chatting with one another. Once in a while you could hear the sound of water being splashed from the dipper. There were also sounds of people returning the dipper to its proper place after being used. The sound of wood hitting the stone basin was so unique.   

The manners of cleaning yourselves is take one scoop provided, fill it with clean water and rinse both arms. Then move the water into your cupped hand. Rinse the mouth and spit out the water beside the water fountain. You are not allowed to swallow the water or move the water directly from the scoop into your mouth. Then, don’t return the water from the scoop into the fountain, but throw it away next to the basin. 

These sounds of water elements were soundscapes that were inseparable from Japanese Buddhist and Shinto shrines. During this research I recorded water element sounds from many shrines including the Sensoji Asakusa and Meiji shrine. ( the text materials in this section are basically the same with the recording in the Asakusa Sensoji shrine, because the sounds were identical). 

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