Internet Sanpai (インターネット参拝)

Internet Sanpai is the act of visiting and praying at websites provided by Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. It is known as "net sanpai."

More precisely, it generally refers to the act of Shinto priests and Buddhist priests directly praying in front of the altar of shrines or temples on behalf of people who send in their wishes and prayers via email. Some Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples also sell Ofuda (paper charm) and Omamori (charms or amulets) over the Internet. Some websites employ Java programs to allow worshippers to virtually see yourself ring a bell and make money offerings.

The Pros and Cons of the Internet Sanpai

Opinion is divided on whether Internet-sanpai is approvable or not.

Opinion from supporters
It makes it easier for people to visit and pray at the Shinto shrines when they are physically situated far away and difficult to reach.

People are able to feel affinity towards the shrines since they are more easily accessible.

It is similar to 'Yohai' where worshippers offer prayers to a shrine from a remote location and to 'Daihai' where prayers are offered through an agent.

Opinion from opponents
The divine spirit does not exist on the Internet.

The sanctity of "believing and having faith" may be lost.

The Association of Shinto Shrines has unprecedentedly notified Shinto shrines nationwide that every shrine should refrain from providing Internet Sanpai services.