When you visit a Shinto shrine, you may see envelopes, boxes of sake, bags of rice, etc. as shown in the photos. These are offerings to Kami-sama that are generally referred to as Osonaemono. Offerings also have specific names based on the type of item:
Sake: 御神酒 (Omiki)
Rice: 献米 (Kenmai), 御初穂(Ohatsuho)
Cash: 御初穂 (Ohatsuho) or 御初穂料 (Ohatsuho-ryō) or 初穂料 (Hatsuho Ryo) or 御玉串料(Otamagushi-ryō)
Mochi, Kagamimochi, Vegetable, Fruits, Fish, Seaweed: お供え(Osonae)、お供物(Osonaemono)、供物(Kumotsu)、献饌(Kensen)
Torii, Komainu, Kistune statue, Mask, Taiko Drums etc: 奉納(Hono)
When preparing your offering, please affix noshi paper onto the item (except mochi, fish, fruit and vegetables unless they are in the box). On the noshi paper, write what kind of item you are offering on top (e.g. “御神酒” for sake) and your name on the bottom.
If offering cash, please put it in a noshi-bukuro (if you cannot find this, then a regular envelope is acceptable). On the noshi-bukuro or envelope, write “御初穂料” (for Inari) on top and your name on the bottom.
Usually cash is the offering for gokitoh (private ceremony). In addition, if you enter the worship hall for prayer only, or to attend a service as a member, representative an offering of cash is also the custom.
A cash offering is a donation, so there is no rule for the amount. Usually though, it is at least 5,000 yen/$50 for gokitoh, or 3,000 yen/$30 if you are only having prayer in the worship hall.
When do I give the offering to the shrine?
You should present your offering as soon as you meet the shrine staff or priest. They will place your offering on the offering table and let Kami-sama know that you made the offering.
We see many people present the offering after the gokitoh or service. Although there is nothing wrong with this, it is better for it to be presented beforehand so that Kami-sama can make the connection with you through your offering during the ceremony or gokitoh.
You can download noshi paper and noshi-bukuro here: