Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu in Kamakura (Weekly Photo Challenge: Red)

On Tuesday April 19th, I decided to get out of Tokyo for another day trip (yes, I am still writing up my Tokyo-area adventure!). This time, I decided to go to Kamakura. I figured, what with my love of big Buddhas, I couldn’t exactly leave Japan without seeing The Great Buddha of Kamakura, could I?

I based most of this day trip on the very helpful information I found in my Lonely Planet Tokyo City Guide (7th edition). The guide said, “Be sure to stroll up Komachi-dori from Kamakura Station“, so I did. My instinct was to run straight to the Daibutsu (Great Buddha), but when I looked at the map I realised that wouldn’t be the most sensible option. So, my day went something like this:

  • Walk up Komachi-dori (street) and visit Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine) which is sort of at the end of the street.
  • Walk to Daibutsu at Kotoku-in (temple) – Warning: long walk! I could have taken the Enoden (train) but I fancied the walk because it was a lovely day in the end.
  •  Visit Hase-dera (temple).
  • Take the Enoden to Enoshima and see what’s there.

Originally I had thought I might write all of that up in one post. However, the day consisted of over 450 photos… so I thought I had better split it up a bit!

So, I’ll start at the beginning. I arrived in Kamakura bright and early around 10am. Kamakura is only a 50 minute train ride from Shinagawa, and only costs 690 Yen (one way), so it’s a very doable day trip from Tokyo. Exiting the JR Station, Komachi-dori was easy to spot:

Approching Komachi-dori

It was exactly what I was expecting – a typical shrine/temple approach, lined with souvenir shops ranging from traditional:

Komachi-dori

To tacky:

Souvenir shop in Komachi-dori

Oh how I wanted to buy everything I saw! They had these amazingly tacky Daibutsu head soft toy/cushions. They were actual head-sized! But I had to reason with myself – it would have been quite difficult to get that home on the plane and, really, did I actually need a Buddha’s head?!

It was relatively early, and only a Tuesday, but the streets were really quiet. I wondered if it was because of the drop in tourism due to the disasters, or if it was usually a quiet time.

At the end of Komachi-dori I easily found Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu. First I spotted this tiny little torii gate:

Small torii

Then I followed the trees around to the right, where I found its big brother:

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine)

According to Wikipedia, this shrine is “the most important Shinto Shrine in the city of Kamakura“. I really knew very little about it, but the Lonely Planet said “it is dedicated to a deity who is both the god of war and the guardian of the Minamoto clan“.

Unfortunately, it had started to rain a bit as I approached the shrine. Still, I didn’t let a little rain bother me too much. I spent quite a while wandering around the shrine, taking photos and enjoying the very peaceful atmosphere.

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine)

According to my Lonely Planet, “this bridge was once reserved for the passage of the shogun alone“.

The shrine is located in such a huge space:

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine)

I imagine the festivals they hold there would be really amazing.

The shrine and its entrance are coloured bright red:

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine)

There were almost no other people around:

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine)

The main building was up a lot of steps. By this point in my trip I was getting used to climbing what felt like hundreds of steps every day!

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine)

This shrine was very modern in some ways – it had a vending machine for omikuji:

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine)

But did still have the traditional shop for omikuji and omamori:

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine)

Actually, much to my surprise, they sold omikuji in English! I was really lucky and I got “dai-kichi” which means “excellent”:

My fortune

Cynically, I couldn’t help wondering if all the English ones were “dai-kichi”, just to keep the foreigners happy…

This gate is pretty impressive:

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine)

And it had some very beautiful raised carvings on it, much like the ones I had seen in Nikko the day before:

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine)

☆★☆

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine)

☆★☆

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine)

I couldn’t get over how quiet it was there.

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine)

If you visit this shrine, be sure to stop at the top for the view:

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine)

By the time I was done wandering around the shrine, the sky was black and it was raining.

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine)

However, by the time I had wandered back down Komachi-dori (avoiding the rickshaw guys on the way)…

Komachi-dori

…the sun was starting to break through the clouds! In fact, by the time I came out of the Ghibli shop, which is near the entrance to Komachi-dori:

Ghibli shop on Komachi-dori

…it was turning into a beautiful day!

So that was when I decided to walk to the Daibutsu. Luckily, my route took me past a Starbucks:

Starbucks

I thought this Starbucks had an excellent design. I’ve been using this Starbucks to try to work out the route I walked. It was about across from the Kamakura City Office which is on Onarimachi. I basically followed this road straight (away from JR Kamakura Station) until I saw signs for “Daibutsu”, of which there were plenty.

Daibutsu this way!

☆★☆

Daibutsu this way!

The signs took me through some small residential areas:

Quiet street

I could never tell you what street this was! Anyway, it’s walkable from the station, but it did take a while.  Finally, fuelled by my Starbucks Matcha Frappuccino and the beautiful sun, I reached Kotoku-in… but I shall leave that for the next blog! 😉

☆★☆

By the way, as you may remember, I have been taking part in WordPress.com’s Post A Week challenge this year. Each day I get an email from The Daily Post, offering me suggestions for ways to keep up with the challenge. Once a week they post a “Weekly Photo Challenge”. This weeks theme is “Red” and, because my post today seems to contain an awful lot of red, I figured I would enter it into the challenge. So far I have had no problems keeping up with the Post A Week challenge I set myself. Hopefully I will be able to continue, especially with the help of The Daily Post. Thanks WordPress.com! 😀

2 thoughts on “Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu in Kamakura (Weekly Photo Challenge: Red)

  1. The only temples that I’ve witnessed were in Singapore, but I must say that they were very spiritual places & extremely peaceful…I’ve often thought about attending a Monk’s Retreat to appreciate this even more! xx

    Like

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