Learning how to light incense (osenko) and placing it an incense burner
Like all things Japanese, there is a specific ritual that needs to be observed when burning incense. You light the incense, wait a few seconds, then extinguish the flame using your hands. It's considered improper to blow it out with your mouth. Every Japanese kid learns all the rules for how to be a proper nihonjin very early on.
After you extinguish the flame, the smoke is supposed to have healing powers, so you fan the smoke towards you or a part of your body that hurts. I need a few of these incense sticks for my feet... you know, for when we go hiking...
Rows upon rows of Chõchin - red paper lanterns - are a symbol of celebration. Ringing the bell at the temple is part of the praying ritual
The ritual for praying goes like this: first, throw money into the offering box. Then tug on the rope to ring the huge bell above. This calls the diety's attention. Then bow twice, make your wish or prayer, clap your hands twice and then bow once again before leaving. So interesting watching all the Japanese visitors do this!
Clapping the hands also calls the god's attention, but also wards off evil spirits.
A falcon flies high above our heads. Do you know what the Japanese word for falcon is? It's Hayabusa...
For years, the German falcons were in competition with the Japanese falcons to see who could be the fastest. Fears of a backlash due to safety concerns forced the falcons to come to an informal agreement to limit their top speed to 300 km/h, but right before this agreement was put into place, the Japanese falcon topped 312 km/h, securing its place in history as the fastest production falcon ever.
And by falcons, I mean motorcycles...