Flowers in the hand-cleansing basin provide a sense of cooling as purification remains suspended

Many worshippers photograph the vividly colored ‘purification-water flowers’ in the image of early summer

Flowers floated in the hand-cleansing basin within the precincts of the Sapporo Suwa Shrine in the city of Sapporo are creating a cool atmosphere that is proving popular among worshippers.

In Japan, it is customary for those who worship at a shrine to purify both hands and their mouth with water. As part of measures to prevent the spread of infections from the Covid-19 virus, the ladles used to scoop the water from the basin cannot be used, and the flowers have been utilized again this year to provide a relaxing sight for worshippers. Last summer, nine shrines in the city and its suburbs were invited by Suwa Shrine to take part in a ‘purification-water flower pilgrimage’. From late January this year, the shrine also held a similar event in which the water into which flowers had been placed was allowed to freeze, and will be requesting other shrines to join them in placing flowers in the hand-cleansing basins again this July.

The shrine’s chief priest’s assistant, Kitakata Hirokazu decides on a theme and regularly changes the flowers. In early June, the theme was ‘early summer’, and seasonal flowers like red gerbera and blue and purple delphinium were floated in the water. As of June 11, the flowers were changed to hydrangea in the image of the rainy season in Honshu.  


Sapporo Suwa Shrine