Double Your Money in Kamakura

Aug 19th, 2009 | By | Category: Featured Articles, Temples & Shrines, Travel

Kamakura Money Washing ShrineTake a gamble on the strength of your faith the next time you visit Kamakura and you may leave richer in both spiritual and monetary terms. The Zeniarai Bentzaiten Ugafuku Jinja (shrine) is dedicated to Benzai, one of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune, who is revered as the Goddess of knowledge, art and beauty, music and anything that can be said to flow.

Your hard earned money is one of those things that flows, usually away from you faster than towards you, and it is said that if you visit Zeniari Bentzaiten and wash your money there the flow will be reversed for the faithful and that it will come back to them many times over when spent.

Based on the tale of Minamoto Yoritomo who, in 1185 had a vision and received the following message “I am the god of Ugajin {woo-gah-gin}.  In a valley to the northwest, there is a miraculous spring that gushes out of  the rocks.  Go there and worship to the Gods of Shinto and peace will come to the people”.  Moniamoto followed the directions of the Gods and founded the Zeniarai Bentzaiten Ugafuku Jinji.

The shrine is small but located in a lovely glade that is accessed through a short tunnel borrowed into the hills of Kamakura whose entrance is marked by a large stone tablet and tori.  Stepping out of the dim tunnel you are surrounded by rocky slopes of emerald green trees and the peaceful sound of flowing water.

Kamakura Money Washing Shrine Tunnel

Take a wander about and explore the small altars inset into the hillside, the lovely ponds and the small waterfall that is said to flow with one of the five best spring waters in Kamakura.

Kamakura Money Washing Shrine Pond

Next, make a donation of Y100 to receive a bamboo basket, two small candles and a packet of incense .  Pause to light your candles and place them on the wrought iron stand to the left of the shrine entrance then light your incense bundle and place it in to koro before entering the cave where the main shrine is housed.

Kamakura Money Washing Shrine 1

As you enter, the coolness of the cave envelops you and you can’t help but pause to take in the scene before you.  Origami cranes cranes and golden gourds hang from the ceiling and row upon row of tiny wooden tori rest upon a rocky ledge that is lit by a large paper lantern and natural rays coming though the rocks.

The gurgling and bubbling sound of the water will draw you towards the beautiful wooden altar where you will empty your wallet with hopes of future riches. Place your Yen into the bamboo basket, coins and all, scoop up some of the pure spring water and pour it over your money, and pray…

Kamakura Money Washing Shrine 2

A couple we met at the shrine were pondering the idea of washing their credit cards, but alas, this is yet another place in Japan where credit cards are not accepted!

Not ones to tempt fate, my companions and I washed our money and prayed that it would be come back to us as we handed over the damp bills to the various shopkeepers along the Kamakura shopping street later in the day.

We haven’t yet reaped the benefits of newfound riches, but we had some clean money, if only for a short time, and hold on to a lingering hope that good things really do come to those who wait – after all there isn’t a time limit imposed on prayers…

Zeniarai Bentzaiten Ugafuku Jinja is located about 25 minutes on foot from Kamakura station (approximately one hour from Tokyo station by train) or take some time to explore Kamakura on a rental bike like we did.  Pick up a map of Kamakura at the tourist information office in the station before heading out on foot or on two wheels to make the most of your time in the area.

Image Credit:  Personal Collection

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  1. I’ve seen people washing credit cards there. I’m not really sure what that does for your debt.

  2. I went there! It has a special atmosphere after dark.

  3. Love it; it gives a new meaning to laundering money! Maybe I’ll go out and try it locally and if it works, it may help the tourism business down here!

  4. Oh, believe me, it works. I washed some money by proxy for a friend, and his Microsoft stock options came in big-time. And look at me, rich and famous and happy (well, one out of the three ain’t bad).

  5. An amazing set of pictures and the reading ain’t bad either. I was in Kamakura a long time ago.

    I was in Japan in 1953-1956 and have a blog about those times. I don’t know if you are interested in seeing how Japan looked back then but if you are then please go to

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