Experience Great Wealth by visiting Zeniarai Benten Shrine, Kamakura
You may have already seen my “Tokyo to Kamakura: A Day Trip Guide”, but today I’m going to focus on one of the shrines from that list; the Zeniarai Benten Shrine (銭洗弁天) , or “Washing Money Shrine” to you and me.
You can walk, but why not Rickshaw?
The shrine is a short 15-20 minute walk from Kamakura Station, the route is sign-posted so navigation is easy. Be warned there is a very steep hill to reach the shrine, so if you’re with less able bodied visitors then perhaps its worth purchasing a ride from a man-powered rickshaw, who will happily drive you right up the hill to the entrance. Just remember to ask the price before you get in, as travelling by rickshaw cart can be a pricey way to travel. After you’ve walked (or rickshaw-ed) your way up a very steep hill, you’ll reach the entrance to Zeniarai Benten Shrine.
Money Laundering but not as you know it
Once inside, you’ll be welcomed by many stalls selling small good luck trinkets as well as ema for you to write your wish on. There will also be many shrines for you to prey to. The Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine is an unique shrine due to its “money multiplying” abilities. Yes, you heard me right. Ever since Kamakura’s ruler Hojo Tokiyori visited the shrine in 1257 to worship and wash his own money for prosperity, the tradition has been upheld by locals and tourists alike who regularly visit the shrine to wash their money in the spring water.
“So how do I wash money” you ask? Well let me tell you. You start by taking all of the cash you have and place it in a bamboo basket. Don’t forget to add any debit/credit cards you may have as they can contribute towards the prosperity when washed by the water. Have a few pounds or dollars floating around? Great, throw them in too. Everything counts. The shrine isn’t picky. So now you’ve placed your cash and cards into the basket, head on over to the spring and get washing. Make sure everything has a good wash.
When you feel like your money is well and truly clean, head on over to some burning incense for the cash to dry. The cash is supposed to dry naturally or by incense, but this may take a while. So if you don’t fancy soggy notes in your purse, then perhaps consider drying their notes with a tissue or hand towel. You won’t be judged, you’ll actually see a lot of Japanese doing the same. Then congratulations, you now have money blessed with prosperity, good fortune and is now the cleanest its ever been!
All that washing has made me hungry
So you’ve washed your money to bring good fortune, what’s next? How about tea and cake in a traditional Japanese teahouse? Head left in the shrine grounds and you’ll find Cafe Gula. You’ll be greeted by a lovely lady who manages the teahouse herself. For only 600 yen ($5), you’ll be spoilt by an excellent selection of tea and traditional homemade cakes. You can choose to sit on regular seats or in the Japanese style room, where you sit on tatami mats, which I highly recommend. It’s so cosy. Unfortunately this lovely cafe is only open on Saturdays and public holidays, but if you happen to visit at one of those times I highly recommend a short detour to Cafe Gula.
Wedy’s Top Tip
As you may already know Shrines in Japan can get very busy, so I recommend visiting when the stalls have closed. Not only will you get to experience a temple in the most beautiful of sunset and dusk light, the shrine will feel very atmospheric as most tourists would have gone home. Leaving only you and a couple of others to fully embrace this wonderful shrine.
So that’s my guide to Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine. Keep tuned for more recommendations and Travel Tips.
So that’s all for now folks,
I’ve been Wedy Jones.
Keep it Real, Keep it Nippon.
Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine:
Address: 2 Chome-25-１６ Sasuke, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 248-0017, Japan (Open in Maps)
Opening Times: stalls open until 17:00, but you are free to walk around the shrine at any time.
Entrance Fee: Free
Address: 2 Chome-25-１４ Sasuke, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 248-0017, Japan (Open in Maps)
Opening Times: 10:30 - 17:00 Saturdays & Public Holidays
Kamakura Station (20 mins walk)