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Amanawa Shinmeigu Shrine

The oldest shrine in Kamakura

The Hase area of Kamakura is usually crowded with visitors throughout the year. Here, visitors can enjoy shopping, tasty foods and Japanese sweets. In contrast with the other shrines and temples in the area, Amanawa Shinmeigu shrine is tranquil.

Amanawa Shinmeigu Shrine was established by Gyoki in 710 and it is known as the oldest shrine in Kamakura. Gyoki, a monk in the Nara period, is known for establishing a Buddha at Todai-ji Temple, Nara Prefecture. He is also famous for building Sugimoto Temple, the oldest temple in Kamakura.

The Amanawa Shinmeigu Shrine for a time was referred to as an Ise Shrine because, like that significant shrine, it is dedicated to Amaterasuno Omikami, one of the famous goddesses of Japan. Although it is quiet you can sense the power of the gods in the precinct.

On entering the main gate, you will see there is a long staircase leading toward the main pavilion and you can feel the atmosphere of the old Japan. You can see the beautiful cherry blossoms there in spring and the whole landscape is fantastic.

According to the historical record, Minamotono Yoritomo and Hojyo Masako, his wife, visited and prayed at the shrine. This is why the location is associated with the Genji, or Minamoto family. There is also a well in which Hojo Tokimune soaked. This Kamakura leader repulsed the Mongol invasions and promoted Zen Buddhism, so it is worth seeing.

Unfortunately, there is no office in the precinct. If you want a red stamp from this shrine, continue on to Yakumo Shrine and the attendants will give you one.

There are other small shrines, Gosho Shrine and Akiba Shrine. The Akiba Shrine is efficacious for disaster prevention. Hase is one of the oldest areas in Kamakura and the buildings and the atmosphere are beautiful. You can visit Hase Temple and the Kamakura Buddha not far from busy Hase Station.

But if you want to experience the quiet, I definitely recommend Amanawa Shinmeigu Shrine and you won’t regret it.

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