Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, also known as Kamakura Hachimangu, is a shrine located in Kamakura, Japan. If you visit Kamakura, this is most likely one of the most popular destinations for both domestic and international visitors who wish to see the beautiful Japanese architecture in splendid scale, and craftsmanship. Kamakura being the historical city, this is an extremely important shrine as it is the shrine for the protector of Kamakura samurai back in the Warrior Era. It is also considered as Sandai Hachimangu, one of the three major Hachimangu (shrine for god Hachiman), thus people favor this shrine over many others.
Greeted by a massive torii
Stepping off of a train at JR Kamakura station, most visitors simply walk to Tsurugaoka Machimangu. It is roughly a 10 to 15 minute walk from the station depending on how crowded the streets are. It’s an easy walk where you can see many cute cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops along any street leading up to this Shinto Shrine. Whichever street you take, they will all lead to this magnificent Shinto Shrine.
Upon your arrival, you will be greeted by a massive “torii,” a gate to enter a shrine, which is one of the most photographed spots of Kamakura Hachimangu. It is called “san-no-torii,” the 3rd torii. There are two more torii leading up to this third one, which separates the human world, and the world of god. Whenever you visit the shrine, you are most likely to see many people at this location as it is also a good meeting spot. This is the face, the entrance to Tsurugaoka Machimangu, and it welcomes you giving you a sacred feeling that you are about to enter the shrine for the god of Kamakura samurai. In Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, there are total of 7 torii. Let’s see if you can spot all of seven at your visit.
Three gods of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu
After passing the huge torii, you will then go forward along the stone pavement, which leads you to the large stone stairs guiding you to the main shrine. At Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, there are currently three gods protecting this shrine. These are Oujin-tennou, Hime-gami, and Jinguu-kougou.
The most important date for this shrine is September 15th, and the most important celebration of the shrine is held every year from the 14th of September to the 16th of September for three days. This celebration involves the city of Kamakura, and many rituals are held over these three days including the purification ritual at Yuigahama Beach, and carrying “mikoshi” (portable shrine) along the main street leading up to Tsurugaoka Machimangu to just name a couple. If you happen to visit Kamakura during this time, you will then be able to see not only the magnificent historical Japanese architecture, but you will be able to witness Japanese religion, philosophy, rituals, and many traditions in action right in front of you.
Be blessed with a partner and a child!
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is well known for its power to bring forth your life partner, and also to be blessed with children. It is because the first shogunate of Kamakura, Minamoto no Yoritomo and his wife was blessed at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. Having such a historical background, the shrine is still popular to this date for those who are looking for their life partner, and also for couples wanting to have children. Tsurugaoka Machimangu thus is considered a “power spot” to bring happiness and joy to one’s life.
Of course, during the New Year celebrations, many people come to the shrine to wish for good health, happiness, and good luck in life in general. Whatever the reason of your visit is, many people enjoy getting a charm, amulet, and/or to write “ema”, the wooden plaques seen in the picture, to wish for a better future. Maybe you can pick up an ema to leave your mark at this shrine.
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Maruyama Inari Shrine in Tsurugaoka Machimangu
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is a large shrine, which has many buildings, ponds, and even smaller shrines inside. Maruyama Inari Shrine is located on the north west side of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, and is a small shrine of inari. In Shintoism, foxes are called “Inari”, and temples at their effigy are one of the oldest types of temples there is in Japan. In the case of Maruyama Inari Shrine, it is the same. It is said to be older than Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, and that it was there before Tsurugaoka Machimangu was built. It is a small section, but has a unique atmosphere with many red flags lined up in orders, and the foxes guarding the shrine make it little spooky.
Like Maruyama Inari Shrine, Tsurugaoka Machimangu has other small shrines inside the vicinity, so if you have time make sure to visit the small shrines, which are unique on their own and make this place even more interesting.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, a starting spot for your Kamakura adventure
There are many great places to cover in Kamakura, but if you are visiting for the first time, this is definitely a great place to start your Kamakura adventure. Besides from the obvious fact that it is a magnificent shrine, it has such a strong historical meaning that by visiting Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, you get to grasp the history of Kamakura fairly well. In addition, it is located close to the station, so after starting from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, you can decide to go and visit other shrines and temples, which are all within walking distance. Of course, for those who are not so keen on walking, there are plenty of buses that will take you to your next destination. It is free to visit, except for the Houbutsuden, which costs 200 JPY (1.6 USD), and for those of you who are possibly thinking about your wedding at this shrine, it starts from as low as 185,000 JPY (1500 USD).
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