The entrance to Zenarai Benzaiten, to the west of Kamakura, is through a hand-carved tunnel. Here, the echoing of footsteps stirs up a mysterious air where shadows dance with shadows. Once safely through the passage, visitors may feel as if they have somehow been transported to a different realm. The temple is surrounded on all sides by high rock walls which seem to hold in the magic of this hidden sanctuary.
Legend has it that Yoritomo Minamoto had a dream in the early years of Kamakura in which the the goddess Ugafukujin appeared to him and told him to seek out a magical spring to the west of the city. Upon discovering the spring, Yoritomo built a shrine to Ugafukujin and other Shinto Kami (Gods), for he had been promised if he did so, peace would come to Kamakura.
The tradition of washing money at the temple began in 1257, when Kamakura’s fifth regent Tokiyori Hojo washed his money here and told others that if they did likewise, they would assuredly prosper. The tradition continues to this day, with thousands of pilgrims flocking to the temple each year to ask Ugafukujin for financial bounty.
Zeniarai Benzaiten is unique in that it is one of the few remaining temples that mixes aspects of both Shinto and Buddhist religions, a practice that was common before the Meiji Government imposed a separation in 1868.
No Official Website
Open Daily 8am-4:30pm
Entrance Fee: Free
Address: Sasuke 2-25-16 Map