Our latest get-rich-quick scheme takes us to a Shinto shrine in Kamakura with an 835-year history.

Some of you may remember that a year ago our Japanese-language reporter Go Hatori asked for one million yen to buy a bunch of lottery tickets with. However, things didn’t go as well as he’d hoped (you can read all the details here), so this year, Go decided on a much more responsible way of securing his financial security.

Was his new method hard work and sensible spending? No, of course not! It was another batch of lottery tickets, but this time with an assist that he was sure would win him the big bucks.

Now, right off the bat, we should establish that Go scoffs at so-called lottery-beating systems such as picking lucky numbers or buying your tickets at a lucky location. Instead of such quackery, Go decided to enlist the divine energies of Zeniarai Benten Shrine in the city of Kamakura, 45 minutes south of Tokyo.

The shrine’s full name is Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine, and is said to have been founded by Minamoto no Yoritomo, then the Shogun of Japan, in 1185. But while it’s a popular place to visit for people who like history, it’s even more popular among people who like money.

“Zeniarai” literally means “washing money,” and while that may make Zeniarai Benten sound like a money-laundering front, the “washing” is meant literally. A natural spring bubbles up from inside a cave on the shrine grounds, and visitors place their bills and coins in wicker baskets, then ladle the spring water over them. Doing this is supposed to guarantee that the amount of money you have washed will return to you several times over.

Just to be clear, you’re not supposed to donate the money you wash (although there is a separate part of the shrine with a collection box you can contribute to). Instead, after you wash your money, you take it home with you.

▼ Go wrapped his wet bills in a paper towel and sealed them inside a Ziplock bag.

After arriving home, Go took the bills out of the bag, but they were still a little wet. Most people would just lay them out to dry, but Go wanted to speed the process up, so he grabbed a hair dryer and an iron.

▼ We don’t recommend blow-drying your money unless you’ve got all your windows closed.

▼ And we don’t recommend ironing your money unless…you know what? We just don’t recommend ironing your money in general.

▼ It did make the bills extra-crisp, though.

For even more good luck, Go then put the bills into a special wallet he’d purchased at the shrine, and walked to his local lottery ticket booth, where he purchased 25 Lotto 6 Quick Pick tickets, costing a total of 5,000 yen (US$46).

A few days later, after the winning numbers were selected, Go went back to the booth to see how much he’d won. With five tickets printed onto each of his five cards, he expected to have at least one win on each slip of paper, and he handed the stack to the cashier with a feeling of expectant pride.

The cashier fed his first card into the result-checking machine, and…


▼ The number to the right of あたり shows the number of winning cards, and the one next はずれ shows the number of no-win cards.

Go’s prosperity party was just getting started though, right? His spirits were still high as the cashier inserted card number 2.

OK, so Go’s lottery tickets are late bloomers. Nothing wrong with th-

All right, calm down, surely the fourth card wi-

Um, well, you know what they say: It’s always darkest before the dawn! With the fifth and final card…

Go’s get-rich-quick dreams faded into complete darkness. Just to drive home the point with a permanent printed reminder, Go was given a receipt, with the official notation that his winning came to exactly zero yen.

Go still isn’t sure where his plan went wrong. Maybe the ironing process caused his luck to literally dry up? Or maybe Zeniarai Benten Shrine’s powers are only applicable to money-making methods that existed at the time the shrine was built, like blacksmithing and rice-farming, and don’t carry over to modern lottery systems.

▼ Go’s eyelids were heavy with the shame he felt at once again failing to become filthy stinking rich.

So if you’re looking for a fun way to connect with Japanese history, or an excuse to visit Kamakura (one of the very best sightseeing cities in east Japan), then by all means, stop by Zeniarai Benten and wash your cash. But if your main goal is financial gain? Be advised that Go’s latest experiment was ultimately less effective than the time we tried to make ourselves rich by letting pigeons poop on us.

Shrine information
Zeniarai Benten / 銭洗弁天
Address: Kanagawa-ken, Kamakura-shi, Sasuke 2-25-16

Photos ©SoraNews24
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