Zeniarai Benten

The shrine dedicated to money-making in Kamakura

Zeniarai Benten is a shinto shrine located in north-western Kamakura, in Kanagawa prefecture in Japan. This place of worship, a mix of Shintoism and Buddhist cult, is nestled amongst rocks. People visit it in great numbers in hope of increasing their wealth after washing their coins in the holy water springing in a sacred cave.

Despite its remote location, Zeniarai Benten is the second touristic destination in Kamakura. Public transportation don’t serve the shrine which is hidden deep in the mountain and only accessible via the hiking trail connecting Kita-Kamakura Station and the famous Great Buddha.

The entrance is quite unusual: first a tunnel opens in the mountain, then continues outdoor in a succession of wooden torii gates. The shrine is indeed almost entirely built from the rocks, high stone walls circumscribing the place and hiding it from outside. The second exit at the rear of the shrine leads back to the walking trail through a narrow passage.

Zeniarai Benten was built by Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shogun of Kamakura, in 1185, the opening year of Kamakura period, when the city proudly became the capital of Japan. The kami Ugafukujin was first worshipped in the shrine, and Benten, a Buddhist deity associated with snakes was later enshrined.

The small shrine is thus one of the last examples of successful syncretism between Buddhism and Shintoism in Japan.

A temple to multiply money

In the sacred grounds, several modest shrines are scattered over a several levels environment, which also encompasses a small pond inhabited by koi carps. The visit is filled with the perfume of incense.

The most important part and the attraction for most visitors, is however located underground. According to a 13th century tradition, washing coins (the literal meaning of "zeniarai") or banknotes in the shrine’s natural spring will multiply said coins or notes.

The ritual consists of immersing a small bamboo basket containing coins a few seconds in the water. If you visit during a colder season don’t forget to bring a towel to dry your money. Meanwhile, you can also admire the beautiful multicolored senbazuru, origami garlands made of thousand paper cranes, dangling from the ceiling and providing a pleasant decoration to the cave.

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Zeniarai Benten photo gallery

  • Zeniarai Benten in Kamakura
  • Zeniarai Benten, Alley to the entrance
  • Zeniarai Benten, Entrance to Ugafuku-jinja Zeniarai Benten
  • Zeniarai Benten, Bamboo ladles for ablutions
  • Zeniarai Benten, Corridor of wooden torii gates
  • Zeniarai Benten, Corridor of wooden torii gates 2
  • Zeniarai Benten, Visitors praying
  • Zeniarai Benten, Shrine dedicated to the 7 Gods of Fortune
  • Zeniarai Benten, Ema plates
  • Zeniarai Benten, Guardian Lion
  • Zeniarai Benten, Prayer hall
  • Zeniarai Benten, Koï carps pond
  • Zeniarai Benten, Temple grounds
  • Zeniarai Benten, Guardian Lion 2
  • Zeniarai Benten, Temple grounds 2
  • Zeniarai Benten, Temple grounds 3
  • Zeniarai Benten, Detail of a pavilion's roof
  • Zeniarai Benten, Torii gates
  • Zeniarai Benten, Senbazuru origami cranes
  • Zeniarai Benten, Visitors washing their coins

Information

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How to get to Zeniarai Benten

About 20 minutes walk from Kita-Kamakura Station

No access by public transportation

Location reachable with the JRP : order your Japan Rail Pass (from ~US$ 281)

Admission

Free

Get your Japanese Yens free of charge

Opening hours

Open every day from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

How long / when to visit

Allow 30 minutes to 1 hour

In Japanese

銭洗弁財天宇賀福神社 (Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku-jinja)

Weather in Kamakura

Today
23 / 27°C
Tomorrow
21 / 26°C

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Official Website (in Japanese)

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