Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Day 6 Part 4 - Kamakura (鎌倉) Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine (銭洗弁財天宇賀福神社)

Apparently one of the more popular shrines on the Kamakura tourist map, Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine (銭洗弁財天宇賀福神社) is in a rather unique location - it is nestled deep in a mountain completely surrounded by rocks, so it is totally invisible from the outside. The only way to reach it till the mid 20th century is via a rather steep hiking trail, but they have now cut a tunnel through the solid rock and placed a torii gate outside:

History of the shrine:

Inside, the main attraction seems to be the practice of washing one's money (coins, preferably) in the waters of a stream inside a cave. Here is the entrace to the cave:

But before that, we had to purify our hands in the water house:

Inside the cave, they have helpfully provided facilities for washing coins:

There's also some interesting cloth decorations:

This shrine is a curious mixture of Shinto and Buddhism - even the object of worship, a stone snake with a human head, is a merger of Ugafukujin (the god of waters) and Benzaiten (the Buddhist goddess Saraswati).

The various buildings here are all tiny, and built at different levels due to the uneven terrain:

 For some reasons, statues of lion-like creatures are quite prominent here:

The spring running out of the cave into a pond full of koi carp:

This seems to be a popular place to take photos:

More stone sculptures:

More good wishes notice boards and fortune hangers:

Interesting bamboo partition:

Outside the shrine we encountered a very small farm next to some houses:

On our way back from the shrine, we met a woman walking an Akita dog. Since this is the first time I have seen an Akita, I asked the woman if I could pat her dog, and she said yes. I think the dog's name is "Ged", or or is "Gan"?

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