Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine Kamakura Reviews
historic and happening shrine Jan 01, 2009
While the Diabutsu seems to be more popular with foreign tourists in Kamakura, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is arguably the most important shrine in Kamakura. The original Hachimangu shrine is closer to the ocean, but this one was built by Minamoto Yoritomo, founder of the Kamakura shogunate, to serve as a center of government and house Hachiman, the god of war. While Kamakura was only the capital of Japan for 141 years, the shrine's importance is still evident today.
The approach the main shrine from Wakamiya-oji is lined with cherry trees, called the dankazura. It is believed that Minamoto had the avenue of cherry trees planted in order to ensure a safe pregnancy for his wife and the birth of a son. You will notice the path gets narrower as you get closer to the shrine, a defense mechanism used to force those approaching the shrine to dismount their horses. As you enter the temple complex, you will notice a curved bridge that is blocked off. This used to be reserved for the shogun, all others having to take the flat bridge. (it used to be open, but aparently it was too much fun for the kids to slide down during rainy weather...). You will also pass the two gen-pei ponds, one on your left and right. They were dug there by Minamoto, with the one on the left signifying the losing Taira clan (with 4 islands, considered an unlucky number), and the one on the right the victorious Minamoto clan.
The first red building/stage is used for ceremonies and weddings, and during the New Year a place where a preist and preistess give blessings. To the left of the main shrine building is a sacred ginko tree over 1,000 years old! Up the steps in the main shrine to the left there are some portable shrines on display. Also in the main shrine, there is a VERY small collection of paintings, mask and armor that you can see for 100yen (save your 100yen, it's not worth it).
Heading down the steps, to the right of the main shrine is the smaller black and gold lacquered Minamoto family shrine. You might also notice a tree roped off, not far from the Minamoto family shrine. This is the Yui Wakamiya Yōhaijo, literally means "to pray at the distant Yui Wakamiya." Basically created so the shogun could pray at the original Moto Hachiman shrine without having to actually go there.
As you head out of the shrine, be sure to pick up some tako-yaki or candy-covered fruit from one of the fruit stalls. Yummy!
There are many festivals held year-round, with the New Year's festival attracting an endless sea of people (2 million I believe the number is). The festival in September is also well-known, with yabusame (Japanese archery on horseback being the main attraction).
Part of the Japan travel blog
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Related Travel Blogs About Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine
Day 3: Kamakura, Odawara, Atami|
Quick stop to Tokyo Bay then to Kamakura to see: Shinto shrine Tsurugaoka Hachiman-Gu and the Daibutsu (Great Buddha) at the Kotuku-in Temple.Then on to Atami whose New Akao Hotel is embedd…Kamakura to see: Shinto shrine Tsurugaoka Hachiman-Gu and the Daibutsu (Great Buddha) at the Kotuku-in Temple. Then on to Atami…