Chofu is the step of cleaning yourself before making any prayers or offerings at a shrine in Japan. This important step is simply to wash your hands at provided water filled basins, called chōzuya, apanese shrine.
The correct Japanese term for this ceremonial purification rite known as temizu.
It is important for visitors to purify themselves before stepping on sacred grounds. You do so at the Chozuya which is a large basin with wooden dippers that is located at the entrance of shrines. You can always see one at the shrine or temple grounds.
You can always see Japanese locals who know exactly what to do as compared to us, clueless tourists when we reached these shrines. Worst is that we thought we know what to do at the Chozuya and make a mess. Some even drink the water !
So here are the steps as told to me by my Fukuoka bicycle tour guide.
Steps to Chozu or How To Purify Yourself
Step 1 : Take the wodden dipper in your right hand and scoop up some water.
Step 2 : Wash your left hand.
Step 3 : Change the dipper to your left hand, and wash your right hand.
Step 4 : Pour some water from the dipper to your left hand and rinse your mouth with your left hand.
Step 5 : Hold the dipper upright to wash the dipper.
Step 6 : Put the dipper back on the basin, scoop side down.
I have also a video here to show you the exact steps.
YouTube Video on how to clean yourself before prayers at a Japanese Shrine
A visit to Japan is never complete without a visit to its many beautiful shrines and temples. Knowing and doing the right purifying steps will make your visit a more pleasant one and who knows, enabling your wishes and dreams to come true !