Kamakura: Ancient Japanese Cave Of Wealth And Death

ΩΩWhile looking for information about the US/South Korean fleets, I found this rather strange Manga about the USS Washington, CVN73 that was produced for Japanese consumption.  This was an attempt to sell our nuclear navy’s activities to the Japanese public.  In this story, a Japanese/American sailor tours Japan in order to learn about how Japanese culture works.  One place he visits early on is the Kamakura Shinto/Buddhist shrine.  

ΩΩKamakura Travel: Zeniarai Benten Shrine


  • Zeniarai Benten Shrine is a popular shrine in western Kamakura, which people visit to wash their money (zeniarai means “coin washing”). It is said that money washed in the shrine’s spring, will double.


  • Minamoto Yoritomo (Minamoto no Yoritomo‘s reign: 1147-1199 AD), the founder of the Kamakura government, ordered the shrine’s construction after a god appeared in his dream and recommended him to build the shrine in order to bring peace to the country. Because the dream occurred on the day of the snake, in the month of the snake of the year of the snake, the shrine was later also dedicated to Benten, a Buddhist goddess associated with snakes.


  • Zeniarai Benten Shrine is a nice surviving example of the fusion of Buddhism and Shinto. Many other shrines were stripped of their Buddhist connections when the Meiji government attempted to emancipate and separate Shinto from Buddhism.




ΩΩThis interests me because the entire topic of ‘What is money?’ is suffused with immense amounts of wishful thinking, dreaming, religious reverberations and in general, insanity on the part of humans.  This ancient Japanese story about a dream message that shows a Japanese warlord how to double his ‘money’ is psychologically as well as politically very interesting.


ΩΩWhy would this man have such a dream and why did he connect this magic doubling of money to a cave?  One of my chief points about creating money is how this is very intimately related to caves and darkness.  Secrecy and the gods are of the highest elemental importance to the creation of ‘money’.


ΩΩMoney isn’t a machine, it isn’t production, it isn’t even real except during various brief attempts at hitching the idea of ‘money’ to something solid and above all, limited in quantity and size.  The vacillations between infinite money and limited, reality-connected money is the history of humans since the invention of agriculture.


ΩΩAfter looking up a list of ‘Year of the Snake’ and looking at the life span of Minamoto Yorimoto, there is a key Year of the Snake in 1185 AD.  This coincides with a very famous sea battle in Japanese history:  Battle of Dan-no-ura – Wikipedia whereby the reigning emperor of Japan, a mere six year old child, was drowned and the Taira clan was defeated.  This was the final act of the Genpei War – Wikipedia,


ΩΩThe Genpei War (源平合戦 Genpei kassen, Genpei gassen?) (1180–1185) was a conflict between the Taira and Minamoto clans during the late-Heian period of Japan. It resulted in the fall of the Taira clan and the establishment of the Kamakura shogunate under Minamoto Yoritomo in 1192.


ΩΩThe dream could have come to the Mikado in 1197, another Year of the Snake but I figure the 1185 date is more likely for one obvious reason: all wars have to be paid for via inflation.  This may be called ‘The Iron Rule of Currencies’.  All governments since the creation of ‘money’ paid for wars via inflation.  Note that the Mikado who won this messy insurrection wished for the coins to double in number.  This, then, would take off pressure from his regime.


ΩΩWhat I may suggest rather loudly is, he had his officials go to this magical cave and sanctify it and then…DOUBLED THE  NUMBER OF COINS IN CIRCULATION.  Everyone was happy.  Suddenly, there was twice as much money flowing through the hands of the courtiers and they happily spent it and told everyone, the Mikado had this magical religious power to double the currency and this was good, not evil because the goddess of snakes (SHADES OF MEDUSA!!!) told them this is a good and holy thing!

CAVE OF WEALTH AND DEATH PART 1 | Culture of Life News


  • Medusa is another ancient goddess which is connected to death and wealth.  She defied the gods and was turned into a monster.  When she was slain by Perseus, out of her thrashing body came Pegasus.  Pegasus was a very ancient god from the first civilizations, from Ur.  He is a star cluster as well as a guardian of money.  This reminds us of another issue about the gods: originally, gods were natural.  They were either planets, stars, the sun, the moon or natural events like lightning, rain, birth and death.



ΩΩIt is of greatest interest to me to see an Asian snake goddess as an intimate part of ‘double your money’ beliefs.  Snakes, as we all know, tend to hide under rocks, in caves or holes in the ground.  Thus, their connection to money creation is quite understandable.  The ancient people of the Mediterranean Sea basin traded many ideas and concepts with India and China going back at least 6 thousand or more years.  The chief question here is, why do this snake/dark underground place game in the first place?


ΩΩOver the years, I thought maybe this is due to two things: many religious activities were done deep in caves during the previous Ice Age which is why we find various cathedrals of cave art deep underground in various places.  And in addition to this, the mining of most mineral wealth is also deep in caves or underground tunnels.  And these activities are extremely dangerous and often, fatal.  Caves where wealth was dug out of the rocks often were hell holes where slaves were confined who toiled in near-eternal darkness with little light, hammering away painfully, to produce mineral wealth that would make rulers richer.


ΩΩThe knowledge that this mineral wealth was produced in this ugly way coupled with deep religious fears and feelings dating back to the Ice Ages has caused a very deep connection between the concept of death and the concept of digging out ‘money’ from the ground a most important intellectual and emotional concept that is deeply embedded in our minds to this very day.


ΩΩWhile looking for interesting information, I came across this Japanese online game which anyone can play :  Year of the Snake – Free Action Game from AddictingGames!


ΩΩNote that it has demons attacking a samurai warrior who is very poor.  I didn’t play the game so I don’t know if he finally finds a cave filled with treasures but I bet he will end up in a cave at some point.  Japanese animators and game creators are very involved in old myths and beliefs of Japan.  Japanese culture has grown very non-religious since WWII but the religious beliefs are very much alive and kicking ass in Japanese culture aimed at young people and small children!


ΩΩAnyway, Minamoto badly needed money after winning his war and like all post-war leaders, this was solved via creating inflation and debasing the currency by at least 50%.


ΩΩOne thing the Minamoto clan did NOT debase was the ancient form of reckoning wealth, the Koku – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


  • The koku (石/石高?) is a Japanese unit of volume, equal to ten cubic shaku. In this definition, 3.5937 koku equal one cubic metre, i.e. 1koku is approximately 278.3 litres. The koku was originally defined as a quantity of rice, historically defined as enough rice to feed oneperson for one year (one masu is enough rice to feed a person for one day). A koku of rice weighs about 150 kilograms (23.6 stone or 330 pounds).


ΩΩTaxes were reckoned in koku.  State benefits were done in the same way, not in yen but in koku.  When the West came storming in just prior to the US Civil War, the Japanese government tried to update their money system to match that of Europe and the US. Then the US got entangled in a great civil war as bad as the one Minamoto had 500 years earlier and of course, the government issued paper money (the infamous ‘greenbacks’) and inflation raged after the war to the point, the government had to quickly stop this hyperinflation and this lead to the Coinage Act of 1873 – Wikipedia




ΩΩWhen the US, a rising mercantile and manufacturing giant, suddenly backed its issuing of currency with the much more limited gold, all other currencies used for trade in the world went through huge changes.  This definitely impacted Japan which was enjoying rising commerce with the US.  Not to mention, China, which was also based on a silver standard.  Japanese yen – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


  • The Japanese then decided to adopt a silver dollar coinage under the name of ‘yen’, meaning ‘a round object’. The yen was officially adopted by the Meiji government in an Act signed on May 10, 1871.[9] The new currency was gradually introduced beginning from July of that year. The yen was therefore basically a dollar unit, like all dollars, descended from the Spanish Pieces of eight, and up until the year 1873, all the dollars in the world were more or less the same value. The yen replaced Tokugawa coinage, a complex monetary system of the Edo period based on the mon.  Coins were introduced in 1870. There were silver 5, 10, 20 and 50 sen and 1 yen, and gold 2, 5, 10 and 20 yen. Gold 1 yen were introduced in 1871, followed by copper 1 rin, ½, 1 and 2 sen in 1873.


  • Following the silver devaluation of 1873, the yen devalued against the US dollar and the Canadian dollar units since they adhered to a gold standard, and by the year 1897 the yen was worth only about 50 cents(US). In that year, Japan adopted a gold exchange standard and hence froze the value of the yen at 50 cents.[12]



Early 1 yen silver coin, 26.96 grams of .900 pure silver, Japan, minted in 1901 (Year 34 of the Meiji period).


  • Production of silver coins ceased in 1938, after which a variety of base metals were used to produce 1, 5 and 10 sen coins during the Second World War. Clay 5 and 10 yen coins were produced in 1945 but not issued for circulation..


ΩΩNote the highlights here: Japan’s yen was equal to the dollar but it was a rather debased dollar that was seeing a huge drop in actual value vis a vis ‘koku’ that is, real goods. The very first devaluation of the Japanese ‘dollar’ came in 1873 when the US stopped the collapse of the value of the dollar here in the US.  After this, the Japanese warlords used their currency devaluation (double the number of yen by washing coins in the Cave of Wealth and Death run by snake goddesses, so to speak) and so after 1873, the Japanese military and navy grew by leaps and bounds and the yen was devalued rapidly.


ΩΩNote that by 1920, the yen were not 50% cheaper than the US gold dollar but now lost 90% of its value and by 1938, all silver coin production ceased as inflation’s war fires raged nearly totally out of control.  Bye the end of WWII, the government’s coins were being made of clay!  Even paper was too precious!


ΩΩLet’s go back to 1873…From the NYT in late September, 1873:  THE PARTY AND THE PANIC. – VIEWS OF SENATOR SHERMAN, OF OHIO GREENBACKS AND GOLD. – View Article – NYTimes.com


ΩΩYes, the new money issued the previous month based on gold was solid as a rock.  And this infuriated people who were deep in debt and frankly, it restricted US military actions which is why the run up to the Spanish American War led to talk about debasing the currency and finally, with WWI, the currency began to tremble and fall relative to ‘koku’, that is real things that are limited in bulk or availability.


ΩΩThe skanky snake goddess in the dark cave always is eager to lend us money to go to war!  These Naga goddesses also adorn themselves with human skulls, of course.  Yet we always want to run off to Her when we want to kill someone and get rich doing this.  The US is very deep in debt due to trying to control the entire planet using military force, bribes and funding foreign armies.  And lo and behold, our currency is collapsing.  Japan’s currency, which was equal to the dollar in 1871, fell to over 350 yen to the dollar after WWII.  And in the US, the value of the dollar to gold collapsed by literally 50% in just one day via fiat from the President and Federal Reserve chief and this was to pay for WWI (NOT WWII!) debts and then we dropped the gold standard to pay for the Vietnam War and all we got was hyperinflation.


ΩΩOne key lesson here is harsh: the value of a currency is prey, even if it is metals, to actions in distant lands.  This is due entirely to the fact that people trade with each other and the ultimate value determinate for a currency is what can it buy overseas?  That is, trade is the key here, not money creation or even banks.  These things are side effects.  The core remains, as ever, the value of farming and land coupled with the needs of trade.

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Filed under .money matters, gold, war and peace

11 responses to “Kamakura: Ancient Japanese Cave Of Wealth And Death

  1. eso

    I, too, need to double my money, but have no money left to visit the shrine in Japan.

    So, I am trying to think of something before the taxes take away my property. I do have enough firewood to last me through the winter though.

    Incidentally, the Latvian name for wood is “koks”, and methinks that it may be related to the Japanese “koku”, a unit of wealth. Many if not most of private forests in Latvia are currently turned in “koku”, money. There will soon be no more trees either. Still, trees are real wealth however one sees them.

    Since I am generally in agreement with the Russian mathematician (specializing in topology) Anatoly Fomenko, who sees history as many layers of the same history differently written and then arranged (by “enlightened” historians) lineary instead of making a many blinyed pancake of it, this is as good a place as any to remember that Fomenko believes that Jesus’ death came either in 1084 or 1184.

    Those years are the very ones when the princes took over the democracy of the forest people and created a “parliamentary democracy”, Magna Carta et al.

  2. Clueless

    Speaking of silver, here is the new Zimbabwe dollar:

  3. DrKrbyLuv

    Speaking of Japan’s cave of wealth…what became of Yamashita’s gold (WW2)?


  4. kenogami

    Ballet Swan lake danced by Chinese acrobats: I have never seen it danced like that.

  5. nah

    the japanese are pretty boss… for what they is they is serious… and the art is of a meaningfully high quality as well, very modern
    that doesnt necessarily make the the worlds most expert inflators… THE US IS!!! NUMBER 1! NUMBER 1! NUMBER 1… HA HAAAAAA… no serious we print trillions and it just is not enough to satiate the empire, give me a break 1 TRILLION BIG ONES… if you look at the wrap the earth in dollars schematics its an outrageous amount of dough
    I have no idea where it goes, but banking needs US citizens more than we need their debt… if it werent so, they wouldn’t need to lord it over us 1 law after another… maybe 1 day we will own the banks again… instead of the banks owning the banks via the government
    moms cranky

  6. nah

    Proof of extra dimensions possible next year: CERN
    the boson is the strangest idea… a universe littering energy into existence by some omnipresence
    kinda begs the question, how deluded are we about the ‘curviture’ of space… yeah yeah yeah extra dimensions are complicated things, but tween light time lensing and then this stuff gooing up the perfect emptyness life really is a miracle

  7. PowerToThePeople

    Speaking of the nature of money – is real money a commodity like silver or gold? NO. It was only the law that gave silver it’s value. When it was “demonetized” by a sneaky act of Congress in 1873 (via the bankers under British influence), silver became worth a whole lot less, and gold as the only remaining coinage, worth a whole lot more.

    The purpose of the 1873 act was not to kill hyperinflation, it was to increase the price of gold and make the debt load higher for Americans, with repayment to the creditors/bankers in higher valued gold.

    The purpose of the bimetallism craze (silver and/or gold standard) was to distract people away from real money, Greenbacks.

    By the way, the 30 year period after the Civil war was deflationary. This deflation resulted partly by getting rid of silver coins as money, partly by retiring some of the Greenbacks, but mainly by not creating enough new money during a period of expansion in population and production (the Industrial Revolution).

  8. emsnews

    I love how some people turn things inside out. Back in 1873, everyone and I do mean EVERYONE knew exactly that the business of ‘silver’ as a basis for ‘greenbacks’ was all about inflation so war debts could be paid off with cheap, degraded ‘money’. Even YOU say this!

    Complaining about how the costs of war had to be paid properly annoys you! You wanted to cheat anyone who received money during the war! I hope you finally figure this out: wars cause inflation. Inflation, in turn, hammers the economy in very dangerous ways.

  9. emsnews

    Weimar Germany tried to inflate its way out of war debts only the allies wouldn’t let them pay reparations in German Marks, they had to pay in US dollars. So the inflation was confined entirely to Germany and Austria and of course, utterly laid to waste the entire society as well as wrecking the economy in very significant ways and incidentally, paved the road to Naziism.

  10. if

    Japan, South Korea factory output slumps as Asia shifts
    Japanese companies cut production for the fifth month and by the biggest margin since February 2009, while South Korea’s industrial output fell for the third month in a row, disappointing markets which had bet on a rebound.

  11. FallenTree

    Great article!! I focused on your “…creating inflation and debasing the currency by at least 50%…” comment.

    Can you imagine that happening in America? Need to read a new thriller just out about Americans standing up to tyranny & trying to get their way of life back. It’s a great read cause it’s about what you wrote about.


    2011 will be seeing lots of inflation & Walmart just announced a 5.6% in their products last month. Thanks for the article.

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