Zeniarai Benten Shrine (also commonly known as Zeniarai Benten Ugafuku Shrine) is a natural spring tucked away between jagged rocks in a little valley. Legend goes that if you wash your money in the spring, it will multiply. The shrine is predominantly Shinto, mixed with a hint of Buddhism. Walking distance from the town of Kamakura, it is the second most popular shrine in the area.
The shrine is a 20-minute walk from the station, through thin, winding roads and up a few rugged steps. Most would agree it’s a small expenditure of energy for the promise of multiplying money. Money is not the only lure of the area, a few hundred meters away there is the Sasuke-Inari Shrine. Decorated with small fox ornaments and an impressive row of torii (traditional Japanese gates), it promises to enthrall.
For a novice temple visitor, it can seem intimidating to figure out the correct money-washing etiquette. If you are unsure what to do, simply observe and copy your fellow shrine-goers.
Learn the money washing ritual!
First, head to the kiosk, and buy a basket bundled with incense and a candle. From there, you can go to the main shrine (right outside the cave). This is where you send a prayer by throwing a coin in the box, ringing the bell using the rope and clapping twice. Turn left to the candle area, and light your small candle on the big candle. Impale it on a spike and light your incense stick. Place your incense in one of the giant bowls and proceed to the cave. You have completed the first part of the ritual.
The cave is where everyone gets down to the real business.
Time to wash that money and pray for it to multiply!
Put your hard earned cash in the wicker basket (some coins and a note will do) and grab a ladle. Kneel respectfully down and hold the basket in one hand while ladling the natural spring water over it and on the money. The general amount of ladling looks to be around two to five ladles per basket, wetting the money completely.
Return the wicker basket to dry, and attempt to dry your clean cash. Most Japanese carry little towels with them which they use, but a yen note is quite impervious to water and will naturally dry to a slightly dampened state in no time.
After all your hard work, head back to the Kamakura shops and eat your sorrows away with delicious street food. Hop onto the Enoden (Enoshima Electric Railway) and go visit the other famous temples in the area, more divine favor never hurts.