Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, Kamakura

Dating from the 12th century, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is the spiritual heart of Kamakura and one of its most popular attractions.

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History of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

The shrine was originally founded by Minamoto Yoriyoshi in 1063, then enlarged and moved to its present site by Minamoto Yoritomo, the first shogun of the Kamakura government, in 1180. The shrine was dedicated to Hachiman, the Shinto god of war and patron of the Minamoto family.

Wakamiya Oji, the cherry tree-lined pedestrian path to the shrine, was constructed by Yoritomo in the 1190s so that his oldest son's first visit to the family shrine could be accomplished in style with an elaborate procession.

A gingko tree to the left of the stairs to the shrine (believed to be about 1,000 years old) is the traditional site of a vicious act of feudal violence in 1219. Here, Yoritomo's second son was ambushed and brutally murdered - his head was never found. Fearful this might signify plans for a coup, Yoritomo ordered his brother killed, but the brother committed seppuku before it could be carried out. Finally, to fully eliminate all possible threats to the shogunate, the baby boy of the brother's mistress was killed.

What to See at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

Today, the lotus ponds, arched bridge, contented pigeons, and bright sheen of the shrine give little clue to its sometimes violent feudal history. The tree-lined pedestrian lane stretches from the shrine all the way to Yuigahama Beach, with three massive torii set at intervals along the route to signal the approach to the shrine. On both sides of the pathway are souvenir and antiques shops selling lacquerware, pottery, and folk art.

The shrine is located at the top of 62 steps. At the top of the stairs, from which there is a panoramic view toward the sea, is the shrine itself. The red-painted building isn't terribly notable - the grounds are the major attraction here.

Festivals and Events

As Kamakura's main shrine, Hachimangu is the site of several festivals and events throughout the year. Among the most notable festivals is New Year, during which Hachimangu receives over 2 million visitors, and horseback archery (yabusame) performed on the pedestrian path to the shrine in April and September.

Getting There

Hachimangu Shrine is a 10-minute walk from Kamakura Station.

Quick Facts on Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

Site Information
Names:Tsurugaoka Hachimangu
Country:Japan
Categories:shrines
Dedication: Hachiman
Dates:founded c.1190
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:35.326138° N, 139.556419° E
Address:Kamakura, Japan
Phone:0467/22-0315
Hours:Always open
Lodging:View hotels near Tsurugaoka Hachimangu
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Beth Reiber, Frommer's Tokyo, 8th ed.
  2. Tsurugoaka Hachimangu - Japan-Guide.com

More Information

© Jennifer Pack
© Masayuki Takaku
© Masayuki Takaku

Map of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, Kamakura

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