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鶴岡八幡宮 Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

  • Buildings (Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals)
  • Around Kamakura
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Around Kamakura
2-1-31 Yukinoshita, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa 248-8588, Japan
  • Buildings (Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals)
Opening Hours
[January] 24hours, [April-September] 5:00-20:30, [October-March] 6:00-20:30
Open Every Day
Date of post:2015/06/16

The biggest and the most admirable Shrine in Kamakura

  • Temple / Shrine

Among many Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Kamakura, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is located in the center of the city and the biggest shrine in the area.

Kamakura used to be the military capital started by the Shogun, Minamoto-no Yoritomo in the late 12th century. Other than the beach in the south, Kamakura is surrounded by the mountains, so the city was covered by the natural fortress. This shrine was constructed by Yoritomo wishing for the prosperity of the military government.

After the pleasant walk on the main approach path called Dankazura in the middle of the road, you will see a big torii gate (entrance gate of the shrine). The main hall is located on top of the 61 stone steps. From the top stare, you can look down the panoramic view of Kamakura.

The shrine has a large precinct with many sub-shrines, halls and beautiful garden. In one of the sub-shrines called Shirahata Shrine, the first Shogun Yoritomo is enshrined.

If you visit on weekend, you may have a chance to witness the traditional wedding ceremony in the Maiden (ceremonial dance hall) with old court music and dance.

In autumn, there is a festival which you can see the archery performance shot from the horse back.

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Date of post:2015/06/15

The centre of Japan’s government in the 12th century

  • Temple / Shrine

Kamakura, once a seat of Japan’s government in the 12th and the 13th century, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is a must-see sightseeing spot in Kamarkura. To know about this Shrine, a piece of knowledge of the history is needed.

There were two powerful families at that time, Genji (Minamoto family) in eastern Japan, and Heike (Taira family) in western Japan, who fought each other to get more power to reign over the country; then the Minamoto family suppressed and defeated the Taira family. Later Minamoto Yoritomo became the first shogun of the Kamakura feudal government, and he made Kamakura a centre of his seat. The reason why he chose Kamakura is that it is surrounded on three sides by mountains, and one side by the sea, which was difficult for the enemy to attack. If you visit Kamakura, you’ll be impressed by the landscape. Well, Minamoto Yoritomo built the shrine as his tutelary god, and his follower samurai warriors started to worship the shrine, which led Kamakura to be thrived.

A notable characteristic of the period is that it was the first government which was governed by the samurais, unlike the other periods; so some of the buildings in this period have the feelings of a strong and simple atmosphere representing Bushido, the way of the samurai.

One of the attractions of the shrine is the Genpei pond. This pond is divided by a bridge, and looking at the pond with your back to the tori gate, the pond on the left signifies the Taira family and the one on the right signifies Minamoto family. The banner of the Taira family was red and the Minamoto family was white during the battle; each colour’s lotus flowers were planted before. Also, Minamoto Yoritomo made four islands in the Taira pond, and three islands in the Minamoto pond. The number “4” is pronounced “Shi”, which is the same sound as “death” in Japanese. On the other hand, the number “3” is pronounced “San”, which mean “born” or “come into the world”. So Minamoto Yoritomo made an epitome of the situation of the era in the pond, wishing for the prosperity on his side and cursing of his enemy by making those ponds with secret significance.

Another thing you may be interested in is a small ginkgo tree beside the long staircase to the main hall. There was a huge ginkgo tree which was said to be about 1000 years old, but on a strong windy day with snow in 2011, it fell down. Later, the part that fell down was transplanted again just a few meters away, and the original tree has grown again with new branches and green leaves. Ginkgo trees are traditionally a symbol of vitality and vigour, so people respect and care for the trees.

The main hall above the staircase is designated as a nationally important cultural property. This shrine is listed as the fifth most popular place with 2.5 million visitors for “Hatsumode”, or the first visit of shrines or temples during the first three days of New Year holiday.

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Other Sightseeing Spots of Yokohama, Hakone, Kamakura (Kanagawa)

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