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Coins, Again

I’ve got a bit behind with interesting articles from Jinja Shinpō, so the one I want to mention today is from February 28th. It is another article about the problems with transaction charges for depositing coins in banks. As I have mentioned before, some jinja looked into cooperating with local shops, who had problems with the transaction charges for withdrawing coins, and this article was about some specific examples. It was written by someone who works for Osaka Jinjachō, so both of the jinja mentioned are in Osaka Prefecture.

The first one, Sumiyoshi Jinja (not the famous Sumiyoshi Taisha, which is also in Osaka), made advertising flyers and set a date for people to come and make the exchange. The priest got the sōdai to help with sorting and bagging the coins, and on the first day nineteen people came to swap notes for coins. The largest group were people running convenience stores, but there were six people who came to get change to offer when they paid their respects at the jinja. The priest was a bit surprised by that, but it is the other side of the, er, coin. As Japanese society becomes more cashless, it is getting harder to make sure you have change for the offerings — I have to pay deliberate attention now. The jinja did the same the following week, and once again were able to exchange all of the coins they had prepared.

The second jinja, which is probably Ikinë Jinja (as normal, there is no reading given for the kanji, and this isn’t a standard one), recounts a lot of worries about the process. The chief priest had been going to the bank often enough to avoid the transaction charges, but worried that he was wasting time he could use to distribute Jingū Taima. On the other hand, he wasn’t sure whether he would have enough coins for the local businesses, or whether doing the exchange might not take even more time away from what the jinja really ought to be doing. In the end, he bought plastic cases for fixed numbers of coins and an automatic coin sorter, and advertised to local shops. At Ikinë Jinja, there is no fixed day — instead, the shopkeepers make an appointment in advance.

Both jinja mentioned that this was a good way to strengthen relations with the local community, and that they saw some shopkeepers who had never visited the jinja before. In the long term, I suspect that the community links will be more important than the money saved by both sides on the transaction fees.

Of course, the article notes that not all jinja have chosen to do this. Some see the transaction fee as the cost of keeping the money safe in the bank, or have judged that it is not high enough to be worth the trouble of avoiding it. (Ikinë Jinja notes that shops have little demand for five or one yen coins, which might well mean it is cheaper to pay the transaction fees.) However, some jinja do seem to have made a good job of turning a problem into an opportunity.

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