Kamakora, a daytrip away from Tokyo, is a magical town filled with temples and shrines. Of all the shrines in the city the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is said to be the most important Shinto shrine, dating back to the 11th century. This temple kicked off my day of temple exploration. If you’re only in the Tokyo area and can’t make it to Kyoto, Kamakura is a good alternative option.
The official website writes :
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu was established by Minamoto Yoriyoshi (源 頼義, 988-1075) in 1063. […] He returned to Kamakura, and built a small shrine for the Hachiman kami (the Japanese word for Shinto deities) near the coast to give thanks for success in suppressing the rebellion. The Hachiman kami was regarded as the protector kami of the warrior class.
The current Tsurugaoka Hachimangu owes its origins to Yoriyoshi’s descendant, Minamoto Yoritomo (源 頼朝, 1147-1199), head of the Minamoto clan. Yoritomo came to Kamakura in 1180 to raise the flag of revolt against the Taira clan which had come to dominate Japanese politics in Kyoto especially after 1160. The reason Yoritomo chose Kamakura as his base was because it was here that his great ancestor had successfully put down the 1063 rebellion. He moved the shrine to the present site and built a more magnificent shrine. This new shrine was called Tsurugaoka Wakamiya (鶴岡若宮), which means the new shrine at Tsurugaoka. […]
Yoritomo developed Kamakura as his capital city, and set Tsurugaoka Hachimangu in the centre of the city. While Kamakura was the capital city of Japan, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu played an important role not only as a religious authority where the shogunate held many majestic rituals, but also served as the political centre of the realm.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu was founded on Yoritomo’s faith and respect for his ancestors’ achievements. Yoritomo’s devotional to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu was deemed to be an ideal to which subsequent shoguns and samurai should aspire. Subsequent shoguns and their followers worshipped Tsurugaoka Hachimangu as Yoritomo had done, and built shrines for Hachiman kami throughout Japan. […]
The current main shrine is a typical example of Edo shrine architecture; it was constructed in 1828. The Wakamiya shrine was restored in 1624, and both thrived owing to the lavish support of the Tokugawa shogunate. Both of these buildings are designated as nationally important cultural properties. Today, Kamakura is famous for its many historical sites and places of beauty. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is still located at the centre of Kamakura, attracting the respect and the faith of so many.
Here’s a bit from this beautiful shrine …
The complex includes a few Japanese gardens and ponds…
More from the temple day to follow later…