During my most recent visit to Kamakura’s Asahina Kiridoshi, an ancient pass which connects it to neighboring Yokohama City, I stumbled across several cultural gems, one of which included Kumano Shrine. Sitting at the top of a densely wooded hill, this tranquil shrine is located at the eastern entrance to the Asahina Pass and has a history dating back almost 800 hundred years.
Although technically situated within Yokohama’s Kanazawa ward, this shrine’s secluded location presents a stark contrast from the bustling metropolis which is only a few kilometers away. Kumano Shrine is believed to have been originally been built from around 1240 -1243, by Hojo Yasutoki. This was during the period when Minamoto no Yoritomo had chosen Kamakura as the capital of his shogunate. During its long history, this shrine has been renovated and rebuilt on numerous occasions. Some of its more recent renovations occurred in 1978 when the main shrine as rebuilt, while in 1989 a new worship hall was completed.
For anyone who has traveled throughout Japan, you may have noticed numerous other similarly named shrines. In fact, according to the latest information, there are over 3000 Kumano Shrines located throughout Japan. The reason for this is because all of them are either affiliated and/or named after the world famous Kumano Sanzan shrine in Wakayama Prefecture. The Kumano Sanan complex actually consists of three shrines and forms part of the UNSECO listed “Kumano Kodo,” pilgrim route. Although Yokohama may seem a world away from Wakayama's ancient pilgrim route, Asahina’s Kumano Shrine offers a glimpse of the serenity and tranquility for the place which it is named after
From JR Kamakura Station, Kumano Shrine is about a 5 minute bus ride away and can be accessed by either taking bus no.4 or 25. to Kamakura Reien Shomon-mae and/or Kanazawa Hakkei-eki. The nearest bus stop is either Jūnisō (十二所) or Asahina-tōge (朝比奈峠). Alternatively, the Shrine can also be accessed from Kiekyu’s Kanazawa Hakkei Station by taking the number 8 bus bound for Ofuna and getting off at Asahina Bus Stop