Japanese Culture 2 – Saisen

What is "Saisen"?

Let me go ahead and tell you that there are many theories about money offering (saisen).


Money offered to the gods and Buddha as thanks for the "fulfillment of a prayer" (kigan jyojyu).

It is also money dedicated when paying homage to shrines and temples.

In the old days, offerings were not made in money, but rather in sacred objects, such as rice, etc.

(Reference: goo dictionary)


According to one theory, some people believe that by throwing in their own money as a "saisen", they are purifying themselves.


The meanings seem to differ a bit between shrines and temples.

The temple has the meaning of "o-fuse". Some people believe that "o-fuse" is the practice of discarding one's own greed and attachments.


What is a saisen-bako?

A box placed in front of a shrine or temple to receive monetary offerings is called a saisenbako.

In most cases, we say “osaisen” and “osaisenbako”by putting "o" in front of "saisen" and "saisenbako", and the box may have "osaisenbako" written in large Kanji characters.


Lower photo: "Jozai" was written on it.

How much money do you put in the "Saisen-bako" at temples and shrines?

We have received this question over 100 times now.

Saisen is money dedicated to the gods and Buddha as "gratitude for the fulfillment of a prayer", so it is different for each person and generally differs from time to time. Consult with your own wallet before making a decision.


When we asked the Nihon Ai editorial staff how much money they had actually offered in the past, the answers ranged from 5 yen to 3,000 yen, and varied from time to time, rather than a fixed amount each time. The most common answer we received in the beginning was 100 yen.

Saisen playing on words

*Some have been forced to complicate things.

5 yen ... good relationship (goen).

15 yen ... enough good relationship.

20 yen ... doubling good relationship.

25 yen ... doubling good relationship.

45 yen ... always having good relationship.

55 yen... GO! GO! Step forward


In this day and age, a ten-yen unit is not enough, and some people say, "Shouldn't the market price be 100 yen or more?".

There is no fixed amount of money for osaisen.

Please consult your heart and your wallet to decide.


This is an ema (wooden wishing plaques). You can find them at shrines and temples. On the ema, you write your wishes.