Prevalent price (朱印代) for a stamp in a shrine or a temple is 300 yen, although there are exceptions. Wikipedia confirms this Shuin 朱印.

I wonder if the amount bears an association of 参百円{さんびゃくえん} with 参拝{さんぱい} / お参{まい}り or is it purely coincidental?

If there was a connection, are there any other examples of combining a number and a word based on their common character? Like 拾 for 10 with 拾う{ひろう}? In advertising perhaps?


Interesting thought, but I doubt that 300円 has anything to do with 参拝, simply because of inflation. Maybe it used to be 30円 and 3円 in the past though?

It's true that numbers and their sounds or kanji have strong ties in Japanese:

  • The 五円 coin is considered lucky because it's homophonous with ご縁{ごえん}.
  • 四 and 九 are unlucky numbers because of their similarity to 死{し} and 苦{く}. In apartment buildings, rooms are often numbered to avoid 4 (#101, 102, 103, 105).
  • Monetary gifts for weddings (ご祝儀) are usually 3 or 5万円, because even numbers can be evenly divided (割り切れる) and are therefore unlucky for newlyweds.
  • 八 is a lucky number because the kanji strokes spread out at the ends ([末広がり]{すえひろがり}), and symbolizes prosperity.

Then there is a huge culture of [語呂合わせ]{ごろあわせ}, where numbers are matched with similarly sounding words:

  • 3900円 (サンキュー) for some kind of special discount pricing
  • Lots of mnemonics for phone numbers and historical dates
  • Yakiniku joints claiming that every 29th day of the month is 肉{にく}の日, etc.

Sorry if this was a little off topic from your original question.


Some digits in kanji (漢数字) are simple and easy to alter. Especially, 一, 二, 三 and 十 are really easy to alter. For example, you can easily make 十 (10) 千 (1000) by just adding a stroke. You don't want to use 漢数字 in your bank checks! In such cases, more complicated kanji are used for digits, called 大字{だいじ}. For example,

      漢数字 大字  
    1    一   壱
    2    二   弐
    3    三   参
   10    十   拾

So I don't think 参百円 has anything with 参拝. It gives a touch of formality, though.

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