• Japan In Focus

Tokushima: Noisy Offerings Ring Out at Temple

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Visitors throw handfuls of ¥1 coins to comfort the spirits of ancestors at Kannonji temple in Minami, Tokushima Prefecture.

MINAMI, Tokushima — A unique event in which people throw handfuls of ¥1 coins at a large board as loudly as possible to comfort the spirits of ancestors was held at Kannonji temple in the town of Minami from Nov. 18 to 20.

This ceremony, which is said to date back about 600 years, was performed to console the spirits of worshippers who died in the past 33 years.

Attendees exchanged money offerings of several thousand yen for buckets filled with ¥1 coins, and then took these buckets to the temple’s main building.

The chief priest was on a raised platform and first held a memorial service for people who died in the Pacific War. The priest then read aloud the name of a visitor’s family member, relative or acquaintance who had died. With this, that visitor would grab fistfuls of ¥1 coins and slam them against a board standing alongside the platform. It is believed that the louder the noise of the coins hitting the board, the greater the repose for the spirits. The sound of piles of coins crashing against the board rang out all day long.

According to the town’s historical records, this ceremony started at nearby Yakuoji temple in 1424. The event has been held annually in turn at 11 temples in the region.