Japanese Shrine Toyokawa Inari Adopts Digital Payments for Prayer Offerings

Guide to Japan

An Aichi Prefecture shrine’s cashless payment options for offerings are aimed at younger and international visitors.

Worshipers at Toyokawa Inari Shrine in Aichi Prefecture now have a new option alongside tossing coins into the offering box before praying. The shrine announced it will provide digital payment options to parishioners in a bid to woo younger visitors and travelers from overseas.

The ancient shrine decided to add contact-free options along with traditional cash payments after the local tourism bureau noted an uptick in inquiries about using credit cards or digital money to pay for omamori charms and prayer services.

A QR code located on offertory boxes allows visitors to pay via J-Coin Pay, a payment application operated by Mizuho Bank. Individuals can decide the amount they want to offer, with ¥115 and ¥415 being popular for having auspicious readings in Japanese.

Toyokawa Inari follows Buddhist temple Banshōji in Nagoya as the second site in Aichi to accept QR-code based digital payments. There are currently 14 shrines and temples nationwide offering cashless payments.

Nakazawa Takuya of Mizuho Bank’s Toyohashi branch and Kasahara Moriyasu of the Toyokawa Visitors Bureau joined Kusama Kanshi of Toyokawa Inari Shrine at a demonstration of the new service. Kusama explained that signs displaying QR codes were set up in 20 locations and that the shrine is looking into offering cashless payments for prayer services and omamori in the future. Nakazawa expressed hope that the convenience of the service will attract more visitors, and Kasahara said he was looking to extend cashless payments options to other shrines and temples in the city.

Handsfree payment platforms, led by services like PayPay, have become increasingly popular in Japan, but most limit use to the purchase of goods and services, making them unsuitable for shrine offerings. However, J-Coin Pay, which has around 1 million users, allows people to transfer money directly from their bank accounts, overcoming the hurdle presented by other cashless payment methods.

(Originally published in Japanese on Kyōdoshi.com on April 10, 2024. Translated and edited by Nippon.com. Banner photo: At a demonstration, a visitor scans the QR code at Toyokawa Inari Shrine. © Higashiaichi Shimbun.)


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