Kamakura - Japan (Day 4 part 4) Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

May 24, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is known to be the most important shrine in Kamakura. The shrine is located in the center of Kamakura and was founded by the famous Minamoto no Yoritomo. Yoritomo was appointed shogun and established the Kamakura shogunate after a conflict between the powerful Taira clan (AKA the Heike) and the Minamoto clan (AKA the Genji) known as the Genpei war which resulted in victory for the Minamoto. The tale of Genji is a very famous one and well worth a read if you have the opportunity or there are several movies, plays and television dramas based on it.

I entered from a side entrance and was surprised to see so many kids dressed in traditional clothes and some adults as well. I had not realized that I was vising during "Shichi-go-san" (seven-five-three) which is a sort of rite of passage day in Japan for boys aged 3 & 5 and girls aged 3 & 7. It is hoped that the ritual will drive away evil spirits and grant a long life to the children. The kids dress in Kimono's and visit shrines. The children will likely receive a chitose ame (thousand year candy) as a gift.

Because I entered kind of backwards I first approached the main hall which was very lively. After entering the main hall and offering my prayers I exited bought a few souvenirs and then soaked in the amazing view of the city. The shrine is built on the foot of a mountain at the center of the city. The weather was still cloudy but I can imagine on a clear day it must be breathtaking.

After enjoying the view a while I descended the long set of 61 stone stairs and as soon as I reached the bottom of the stairway I noticed that there was a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony being held at the "Maiden" or ritual dance stage. Everyone was really well dressed and their presence even further enhanced the festive and auspicious mood.

I was really enjoying the atmosphere and explored the ponds and sub shrines but it was time to have lunch and I was ready for a walk after walking around 4 different temples and a shrine that morning. I headed out under the giant orange tori standing at the entrance and gave a final look-back at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. 

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū (鶴岡八幡宮)Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū (鶴岡八幡宮) I walked a little down Wakamiya Oji Avenue and noticed a little pizza place called "Pizza dada" where I enjoyed the great atmosphere and really authentic and delicious margherita pizza. I asked the very kind and lovely waitress for directions to the shop that sells the famous Kamakura treat "hato sabure" (dove cookies) which are butter cookies in the shape of a dove.

The shop was located at the end of the very popular shopping street which I enjoyed walking along. I did not end up buying anything but I was extremely tempted by several shops. I was too full to eat my dove cookies then but luckily they came in a nice box so I was able to get them to my hotel safely.

 


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