Monday, March 9, 2009

Money Laundering...Japanese Style

Laundering...as in laundry. If you have dirty money and you want to clean and even double the quantity, stop by Zeniarai Benten Shrine in Kamakura. It's known as the "Money Washing Shrine," and as you'll see in the pictures, the money, both bills and coins, are soaked in water. The point isn't to clean the money, it's to double it. I've added pictures to a Shutterfly album and if you'd like to see them click here.

There's a sign outside the entrance that reads, "It is believed that if you spend the money that has been washed in the spring's water, it will increase many times and come back to you. The spring is one of Kamakura's five famous water." The money has to dry naturally though, and has to be spent in order for it to double...at least that's the belief.

The entrance is up a small hill and through a cave. Once you walk through the cave there's a tunnel of wood torii gates and it opens up to the shrine. There's another cave, waterfalls, shrine buildings, candles and koi. Calling it unique is an understatement! Once you get into the center area you can buy an incense stick and candle. You'll also get the basket for your money. After you wash the money you'll see a stack of baskets...add yours to it when you're done. Julie and I weren't sure what to do and in which order, so she asked (her Japanese is pretty good!) and we also watched what others were doing.

Inside the cave where you wash your money are strands of origami cranes hanging. The pictures don't do them justice. Click on the picture to see it at full size and you'll notice how many cranes there really are. There's a very pretty area off to the side with a small waterfall and bridge that was so pretty and perfect for pictures. There were a lot of orange and blue koi swimming in there too. See them?

If you've got a Japanese Shrine Book make sure to bring it with you. We both got our books stamped. We visited another shrine that day and I took video of the man writing in my book (at the second shrine). I love watching it because it seems so simple and effortless, but when it's done it looks beautiful! I've included a video of it below. Those who subscribe via email may need to go to the main website (http://www.passthechopsticks.blogspot.com/) in order to view it.

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