Zeniarai benten ugafuku shrine (popularly known as Zeniarai benten) is one of Kamakura’s most alluring Shintō shrines.
In 1195 Minamoto Yorimoto, the founder of the Kamakura government, had a dream in which the god Ugafukin delivered a divine message. Minamoto was told to go to a valley in the northwest, where he would find a miraculous spring gushing out of the rocks. He was told to worship the Shinto gods there and that by doing so peace would be brought to the people.
Minamoto found the valley, hollowed out a rock and enshrined Ugafukin. Prosperity was brought to the people and peace prevailed in the previously unstable nation. Since then the ‘holy water’ has continued to flow through the grotto. Because the dream occurred on the day of the snake, in the month of the snake, in the year of the snake, the temple was also dedicated to Benten, a Buddhist goddess who is associated with snakes.
In the 13th century, Tokiyori Hōjō, the ruler at the time, washed his money in the spring and prayed for prosperity for his family. This started a legend that continues to this day. It is believed that if one spends money that has been washed in the spring’s water, the money will increase many times and return to the spender.
The shrine is nestled in a niche in the cliffs and accessed through a small tunnel and row of torii (gates). A cavelike entrance leads visitors to the grotto, through which the spring water runs and sari (bamboo baskets) are used to wash money.
This temple is a beautiful example of the fusion between Buddhism and Shintō.
Zeniarai benten is located within walking distance (20-30 minutes), up a steep hill, from Kamakura station and lies on the Daibutsu hiking trail.
Opening hours: 8:00 to 16:00. Admission: free.
- DK Eyewitness: Japan
- Lonely Planet: Japan
- Information sign at Zariarai benten shrine