Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

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Place Category: AttractionsPlace Tags: historic building, kamakura, kanagawa, near tokyo, and shrine

  • Profile

    Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

    Tsuragaoka Hachimangu is one of Kamakura’s defining landmarks, and while it is mostly not wheelchair accessible, it is still worth seeing.

    Background Information

    Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is the most important Shinto shrine in the city of Kamakura, and is at the geographical and cultural center of the city of Kamakura. It is the venue of many of Kamakura’s most important festivals

    The shrine was originally built in 1063 as a branch of Iwashimizu Shrine in Zaimokuza. It is dedicated to the Emperor Ojin, (deified with the name Hachiman, god of warriors), his mother Empress Jingu and his wife Hime-gami. Minamoto no Yoritomo, the founder of the Kamakura shogunate, moved the shrine to its present location in 1191 and invited Hachiman to reside in the new location to protect his government. Ironically, Sanetomo, last of Minamoto no Yoritomo’s sons, was assassinated by his nephew as he descended the main steps after a ceremony.

    The shrine is at the end of a long, wide approach that starts at Kamakura’s waterfront and passes through the entire city center.

    The shrine complex has a number of buildings. A Maiden, a stage for dance and musical performances, is a great place to see traditional wedding ceremonies. The main hall stands on a terrace at the top of a wide stairway.

    Wedding at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

    There are also two ponds, and garden known for its peonies that can be visited in spring and winter for 500 yen.

    The shrine grounds are open year-round from 5:00 am (6:00 am from October to March) until 9:00 pm, entrance until 8:30 pm. During the New Years celebrations (January 1-3rd) the shrine is open 24 hours.

    Getting There

    Tsuragaoka Hachimangu is a 10-15 minute walk from Kamakura Station which is wheelchair accessible.

    Accessibility

    The pathway leading up to the shrine is accessible. Once at the shrine, there is a short, but steep ramp into the grounds.

    Entrance ramp at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

    The main path is made of flagstone with gravel on either side.

    Path at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

    Another ramp leads up to the Maiden.

    Ramp near Maiden at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

    Unfortunately, due to a huge flight of stairs, the main hall is completely inaccessible to those with mobility impairments. As are the museums.

    Stairs to main hall at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

    The rest area near the peony garden is accessible, but parts of the garden itself is not very wheelchair friendly due to many bumpy paths. It may not be worth the entrance fee and some of the garden can be seen from across the pond.

    Pond at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

    There is a wheelchair accessible toilet available.

    Wheelchair accessible toilet at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

    Conclusion

    While a lot of the buildings are not accessible by those in wheelchairs or with mobility impairments, Tsuragaoka Hachimangu is one of the most important buildings in Kamakura and still worth visiting. The main shrine can be seen from the lower area, and the Maiden is often busy with weddings – so there is still a lot to see.

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