Posted by: softypapa | September 7, 2008

Shinto Coin Box – Kamidana Altar Shrine Wood Saisenbako


Vintage small size wooden religious collection box or saisenbako as they are called in Japanese.  Boxes such as these are found at the entrance of nearly every Buddhist temple or Shinto shrine in Japan.  Worshipers commonly approach the altar and throw a few coins into the saisenbako before offering a prayer.  The same type of box is used in Japan for both temples and shrines, though worshipers at a shrine may ring a bell before depositing their coins and praying.  One of the images included below shows a very large and old saisenbako found at a shrine near our home here in Japan.  The rope hanging before the box is used to ring (rattle really) the bell which is suspended from the rafters (If you look closely you may be able to make out the Shrine’s altar within the gloomy interior).

About the Listed Item

This small saisenbako would be perfect for use with a small religious altar or perhaps as a very unique piggy bank or change tray. The offering box is in fair to good condition with no serious damage though it does have marks and scratches from handling and a darkened patina of age. Please read below to learn more about Japan’s native religion Shinto, and how this ancient faith and Buddhism have come to coexist together in modern Japan.

Size of collection box:

Height: 3.7 inches (9.5 centimeters)
Width (across bottom): 7.0 inches (18.0 centimeters)
Depth (across bottom): 4.5 inches (11.5 centimeters)
Weight: 13.3 ounces (381 grams)

Click here to see additional items from Japan

More about the Shinto religion

Shinto is one of the two major religions of Japan (the other is Buddhism).  Shinto is often considered to be the native religion of Japan, and is as old as Japan itself.  The name Shinto means “the way of the gods.”  Shinto is a pantheistic religion, in which many thousands of major and minor gods are thought to exist.  The Japanese have built thousands of shrines throughout the country to honor and worship these gods.  Some shrines are huge and are devoted to important deities.  Other shrines are small and may be easily missed when strolling along roads in the countryside (please see the photo below showing our daughter at a very small local shrine near our home in Japan).

Shinto gods are called kamiKami are thought to have influence on human affairs, and for this reason many Japanese make regular pilgrimage to community shrines in order to offer prayers to local kami.  The act of prayer involves approaching the shrine structure, passing through the gate-like torii (red gates in the shrine photos below), cleansing the hands and mouth with water and possibly ascending stairs to the main entrance of the shrine.  Usually without entering the shrine the worshipper will throw some coins into a stone or wooden collection box and then rattle the suzu bell which is at the top of a long hemp rope.  The worshiper grabs hold of the rope and shakes it back and forth causing the copper bell at the top to rattle.  This is thought to get the attention of the shrine god.  The worshipper then bows twice, claps his or her hands twice and then bows again.  In addition, the worshipper may clasp their hands together in silent  prayer.  Shintoism and Buddhism have managed to find a comfortable coexistence in Japan.  Evidence of this harmonious relationship is found in the fact that that most Japanese are married in a Shinto shrine, but buried by a Buddhist priest.

item code: R1S4-0005769
ship code: G3



  1. hi; are you offering this box for sale, or ? If you are, I’d like to know how much you want for it. Thanks, Mike

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