Osaisen: Coins Drop Sounds at Sensoji Temple

  • Osaisen: Coins Drop Sounds at Sensoji Temple 00:00

Other than the sound of the crowd of people and creaking of wooden shaft in the omikuji box, sounds that you would often hear in the Sensoji Asakusa temple was coins being thrown by the worshippers into an offering box in front of the temple’s door. In the Shinto religion tradition this ritual is called Osaisen, an offering to kami God. 

Long ago, Japanese people who were worshipper of the Shinto religion offered osaisen in the form of the earth’s harvest, like fruits and rice wrapped with ohineri white papers. This was a way to express gratitude to kami for the fertility and kindness of nature so that it may bring good harvest. Osaisen are usually given come fall season.

As time passed by, the osaisen tradition went through changes. People prefer to use money as offerings to kami. Probably because money was more practical. This habit then continued on to this day, so in shinto temples it’s not rare to see a wooden box and people throwing coins inside of it. This wooden box was called saisenbako which translate to a box for saisen.

In this recording you could hear sounds of coins being thrown by the worshippers into the saisenbako at Sensoji Asakusa temple. The saisenbako in this temple was quite big and tall so the tinkling sounds of coins dropping loudly can be heard. In addition there were metal screens in the box, so before dropping more often than not the coins hit the screens first thus creating a unique bright sound (usually saisenbako do have these screens but generally it is made of wood). The tinkling sound of the coins resonated inside the box. Furthermore the sound of the coins became louder because of the reverb caused by the high ceiling and large structure of the Sensoji temple (you can also listen to the echoing conversations between visitors of the temple). 

Usually after throwing coins, worshippers would clap their hands together and then pray. It’s not rare for people to then convey their hopes and wishes to the kami God so that it would be granted.

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Sounds: Japan