※Click on the image in the text to see an enlarged image.
Author:Shiro Suzume
Special report: Hatsuho-ryou

Manners and points to note when paying the "Hatsuho-ryou" Explanation of Actual Prayer Service

Author:Shiro Suzume
Author:Shiro Suzume
Ceremonial fee
Ceremonial fee

Hello, I'm Shiro Suzume, a writer who loves shrines. (*^∋^*)

There are many kinds of prayers offered at shrines, such Omiyamairi visit, Shichi-Go-San and to ward off bad luck. When you receive a prayer, you pay a "Ceremonial fee", but do you know the meaning and manners ofthis charge?

What is the Hatsuho-ryou (Ceremonial fee)? How much is it? How should I prepare it?

This page is intended to explain the knowledge and manners concerning the ceremonial fee, as well as points to keep in mind when receiving prayers. For this explanation, I visited Ichihime Shrine in Kyoto and actually paid the ceremonial fee and received prayers. This article introduces in detail the process from the application to the prayer at the shrine.
By reading this article, you will be able to learn the basic manners of paying the ceremonial fee and receive the prayer smoothly.

What is Hatsuho-ryou?

Hatsuho-ryou is a "gratuity to the gods" paid at shrines for prayers, purification ceremonies, and events.

In the past, the first ears of rice harvested in a given year (= Hatsuho) were offered to the gods as an expression of gratitude for a good harvest. Nowadays, the money paid in lieu of the first ear is called hatsuho-ryou.

Hatsuho-ryou is basically used only for celebratory occasions, and is also called keihatsuho-ryou. Note that it cannot be used for events of mourning, such as a wake or a Shinto funeral.

Difference from Tamagushi-ryou

Tamagushi-ryou is similar to hatsuho-ryou.

A tamagushi is a branch of sakaki with a paper stick attached, which is offered to the gods during Shinto rituals. Like Hatsuho, money is now offered in place of tamagushi. The difference between tamagushi-ryo and hatsuho-ryo is that tamagushi-ryo can be used not only for celebratory events but also for mourning events.

If you are not sure which to use, Hatsuho-ryo or Tamagushi-ryo, it is common to use "Hatsuho-ryo" if you are receiving prayers or amulets and money for congratulatory events.

Preparation of Hatsuho-ryou and points to note when receiving prayers.

Preparations and precautions when offering the Ceremonial fee Hatsuho-ryou and receiving prayers explaination.

How much it is the Ceremonial fee Hatsuho-ryou?

The amount of the fee varies depending on the shrine and the type of prayer. Some have a guideline for the amount, while others do not have a specific amount in mind and ask that the amount be determined "on a personal feeling basis.

In general, the market price for the Hatsuho-ryou is often between 5,000 and 10,000 yen. The approximate amount of the ceremonial fee is often written on the official website of the shrine or near the reception desk of the shrine office, so check it in advance.

Preparation and Manners for Hatsuho-ryou

The Ceremonial fee Hatsuho-ryou is an offering of thanks to God. Although can accept the cash directly from your wallet, it is more polite to give it in a noshi-bukuro (gift bag) or an envelope. The following is an explanation of the basic manners when offering Hatsuho-ryou.

◆How to choose a noshi-bukuro
The noshibukuro used to wrap the first offering should have a red-and-white mizuhiki with a bow knot, which is used for congratulatory or thank-you gifts. A simple envelope with mizuhiki printed on it is also available.

◆How to write Noshi-bukuro
On the outer envelope of the noshibukuro, write "hatsuho-ryou" at the top with a brush or pen, and the full name of the person receiving the prayer below it. If there is a "inner envelope," the amount of the ceremonial fee should be written in the center of the front side, and the name and address should be written in the lower left corner of the back side of the envelope. If there is no envelope, write the amount of money and address on the lower left side of the back of the envelope.

◆How to wrap the money
If possible, use new bills (or bills that are as clean as possible) when wrapping the money for the ceremonial fee. The face of the person printed on the bill should be on the front and on the top.

◆How to give it at shrines
The ceremonial fee wrapped in a noshi-bukuro (gift wrapping bag) should be brought to the shrine in a fukusa (wrapping cloth). If you do not have a fukusa, it is best to put the money in a clear file to prevent it from being folded or soiled.
The ceremonial fee should be handed in at the shrine office when you apply for the prayer service. In some shrines, it may be given after the prayer.

Points to keep in mind when receiving prayers

When you receive the prayer, please pay attention to the following points in addition to the Hatsuho-ryou.

◆Appointment and time for prayer
Prayer services may be crowded depending on the day. If a shrine allows reservations for prayer by phone or through its official website, it is recommended that you make a reservation in advance.
It is also advisable to allow enough time for the prayer on the day of the visit. Most prayers take about 15 to 30 minutes, but it may take longer than expected if the shrine is crowded with many visitors or depending on the number of people and the content of the prayer.

Please take a day when you have enough time to relax and receive the prayer calmly.

◆Dress for praying
It depends on the shrine and the type of prayer, but when we actually asked a priest at a shrine about it, he said, "For general prayers, you can wear normal clothes as long as they are not too flashy.

For example, a formal suit for a corporate prayer, or kimono for a shrine visit or a Shichi-Go-San (seven-five-three mairi), etc., dress appropriately for the situation and the content of the prayer.

In addition, "footwear" is particularly important in terms of attire. Some shrines require visitors to remove their shoes before entering the shrine, so bare feet are not acceptable. Wear clean socks or stockings regardless of the season.

Prayer at the Ichihime Shrine

Here is how I visited Ichihime Shrine in Kyoto, paid the ceremonial fee Hatsuho-ryou and received a prayer.

Ichihime Shrine
Ichihime Shrine

About Ichihime Shrine

Founded in 795 during the Heian period (794-1192), is known as a "women's guardian deity" because all of its deities are women.

The votive plaque next to the main shrine filled with wishes unique to women!
The votive plaque next to the main shrine filled with wishes unique to women!

It is said to be beneficial for all women's wishes, and is especially famous for the "Women's Prayer for Getting Rid of Evil," which was accepted by the Empress of Japan. Many women from all over the country visit the shrine to pray not only for good luck, but also for a child, safe delivery, and healing of women's illnesses.

Ameno Manai, where you can enjoy pure water
Ameno Manai, where you can enjoy pure water

Amano-Mana'i" is a sacred water that was used as a birthwater for emperors when the shrine was first built. It is said that if visitors hang an ema (votive picture tablet) on the water, drink it, and make a wish, their wish will come true.

Visiting Ichihime Shrine

Ichihime Shrine is about a 5-minute walk from Keihan Gojo Station. I was surprised by the very unusual appearance of the entrance of a shrine where the first floor of a certain apartment building became a hollow (tunnel).

The image is that if you pass through there, you will find yourself in the precincts of a rather small shrine.

The torii gate and precincts of Ichihime Shrine
The torii gate and precincts of Ichihime Shrine

By the way, there is no dedicated car parking lot, but bicycles can be parked in the empty space on the right side of the entrance.

There are many things to see, but there are a lot of amulets, votive tablets, and prayers for women, as they are said to be especially beneficial to women.
You can also see things unique to Ichihime Shrine, such as the "card mound" for holding a memorial service for used cards, and the "Oto bell" amulet for toilets.

Card mound
Card mound

The "Hime Mikuji" in a small red daruma is also famous. It's palm-sized and very cute, and you can write your wishes on it and dedicate it to the precincts, or you can take it home as a talisman. I take it home with care and display it in my room.

Hime's Mikuji, The bottom part contains the fortune slip
Hime's Mikuji, The bottom part contains the fortune slip

Although the scale is small, the whole shrine has a gorgeous and gentle atmosphere, and there is also a shrine of Inari in the back. Shinto priests and office staff are also very kind. When I was worried about how to write a prayer application form, they kindly talked to me and relieved my tension.

Flow of prayer at Ichihime Shrine

Now, let me introduce the flow of prayer at Ichihime Shrine.

【1】Fill in the prayer application form
First, make a prayer request.
There is a space with desks and chairs near the entrance of the shrine.

A space to fill in the application form, and there is a stove in the winter
A space to fill in the application form, and there is a stove in the winter

There are two types of prayers at this shrine. It's like "prayer to ward off evil" and "prayer other than to ward off evil". I decided to ask for a prayer for "prayer other than warding off evil (healing sickness)."

Application form There are two types
Application form There are two types

【2】Apply at the shrine office and fill in the prayer arrows
Take the completed application form and the ceremonial fee to the shrine office just across the street. I handed the application form and an envelope containing the ceremonial fee to the office.

Shrine office accepts prayer requests
Shrine office accepts prayer requests

After confirmation, the shrine office will hand you a small arrow made of a wooden stick and red and yellow paper called a "prayer arrow feather".
Return to the entry space again, write your name and date of birth on the red arrow paper, and write your prayer name and date of worship on the yellow paper, and wait for a while.

  • prayer arrow
    prayer arrow

【3】Washing hands and taking a photo
Within a few minutes, my name was called and I went to the nearby wash basin. The Shinto priest will cleanse your hands with water from the chouzubachi, and hand over the paper for wiping your hands on the spot.

Chouzubachi Wash your hands before praying
Chouzubachi Wash your hands before praying

After that, hold the arrow feathers in your hand and take a photo in front of the torii gate. A priest will take a picture with the camera of the shrine and display it for one year. I was surprised because it was my first time to be photographed by a shrine for prayers!

It's time to pray. Follow the instructions, bow once, and enter the main hall through the entrance on the right. I kept my shoes on. The inside of the main hall is a rather cramped space, as if 10 people were to enter, it would be crowded.

Put your luggage on the desk in the back, disinfect your hands with alcohol, and then sit on the chair in front with only the arrow feathers in your hand.

main shrine
main shrine

The Shinto priest bows to the god and first recites the harae kotoba. Onusa is used to purify the front of the altar, followed by the presentation of Norito. Close your eyes and lower your head during the performance.

After that, stand up and stick the arrow feathers in your hand into the "bamboo tube" on the desk in front of you. The inside of a thick bamboo cylinder, about the size of a 2-liter plastic bottle, was stuffed with Styrofoam, and many prayer arrows were stuck in it.
When I stuck my arrow in the empty space, the priest put his hand on the arrow and made a gesture to put the power of prayer.

After that, bow twice to God, clap your hands twice, make a prayer, bow once, and sit down on the chair again. Finally, the Shinto priest clanged the Kagurasuzu bells to purify us, and the prayer was over.

The sincere and very polite prayers made me feel refreshed. I thanked the priests from the bottom of my heart.

【5】The Osagari (withdrawal) after prayer

The Osagari content varies depending on the shrine and the content of the prayer
The Osagari content varies depending on the shrine and the content of the prayer

After praying, you will receive the “Osagari” that was offered to the gods. Inside the paper bag were amulets, amulets, votive tablets, rice and sweets, and an empty plastic bottle. A plastic bottle is a container for drinking water from Amanomanai at Ichihime Shrine. The water can be used for purification in the bath, or can be used as drinking water after being sterilized by boiling.
(The water has undergone an ingredient test at the shrine, and it is said that there is no problem in drinking it as it is. Because there is concern about corona, etc., it is recommended to boil and sterilize it when drinking.)

After praying, write an ema and hang it in the precincts, drink water from Amano Manai, and put your hands together to pray to God.

Thanks a lot for their detailed explanation of each item.


This time, I explained how to pay the Ceremonial fee at the shrine and how to pray.

Introduced the basic etiquette of the ceremonial fee, points to note when receiving prayers, and how you actually paid the fee and received a prayer at Ichihime Shrine in Kyoto. Ichihime Shrine is a shrine that benefits women, so it is especially recommended for those who have a request unique to women.

"Hatsuho-ryou" to give thanks to the gods. So that both the gods and the people at the shrine will be able to receive it comfortably, please follow the etiquette, prepare, and receive your prayers.

  • ・Keihan Gojo Station: 5 minutes on foot City bus Kawaramachi Gojo front 3 minutes
  • ・Subway Karasuma Line: 10 minutes walk from Gojo Station
  • ・City bus: 3 minutes from Kawaramachi Gojo-mae
  • ※There is no dedicated car parking lot.
  • ※Bicycles can be parked in the empty space on the right side of the shrine entrance.