Himeji Castle & Coins

Himeji Castle

We took a trip to Himeji Castle yesterday which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it was a beautiful day to visit. One part of the castle is Okiku’s Well:

This castle has a famous ghost story called “Banshu Sara-Yashiki.” A servant named “Okiku” serving the lord of the castle happened to learn of a wicked chief retainer’s plot to kill the lord and take over as lord of the castle himself. Okiku foiled the plot and saved the lord, but later the retainer found out that Okiku had interfered with his plot. He took revenge by stealing one of the 10 treasure dishes and blaming it on Okiku. As a result, she was tortured to death and her body thrown down the well

While it wasn’t the most pleasant of stories, the well itself was covered in coins. There was a steal wire across the well and coins had piled up on it and even the sides of the well had coins that happened to land in lucky positions instead of falling down to the bottom (which couldn’t be seen).

coins on the cover of Okiku’s Well

I found it interesting that no matter where you are in the world, people throw money (coins) at certain places for good luck. When I have a bit more time, I am curious to do a little research into how this tradition started. Thinking back on my own past and throwing coins, I’ve probably thrown away over $50 (I guess I consider this more “entertainment” than actually throwing away money) since I will often do this in places on my travels.

Japan has many places where coins are to be offered beyond the scope of shrines and temples. I think I’ll try and document some of the other places coins are offered or thrown for luck on the rest of this trip. We’re of to Nara and the huge Buddha today…

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