Sensoji Shrines’ 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 baptismal. In the tradition of Hindu worshippers in India, the Gangga river is a holy place to purify oneself or as a means to worship the Ganga God. The tradition in Shinto shrines 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 sound recording of temizuya in a Sensoji shrine, Asakusa Tokyo. This Shinto shrine was established in 645 and is the oldest shrine in Tokyo. In this sound recording you could hear the atmosphere of people going around the basin and clean themselves here. The sound of the water fountain splashing non-stop sounded 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 starts by taking 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 generally the same with the recording in the Asakusa Sensoji shrine, because the sounds were identical).

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Sounds: Japan