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Egaraten Shrine in Kamakura

Famous for academic achievement

Kamakura's Egaraten Shrine, established in 1104, is dedicated to renowned scholar and nobleman Sugawara no Michizane. The shrine's impressive first gate which is called "Ichino torii" can be viewed on Kanazawa Street.

Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shogun of the Kamakura era, built the shrine which was later improved upon by Tokugawa Ieyasu upon request by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It is now registered as an Important Cultural Property.

Sugawara no Michizane's reputation as a scholar turned the shrine into a place where students come to pray before Japan's rigorous examination period. Many people also come to pray at the shrine at New Year. People write their New Year wishes on ema (small wooden plaques) and also draw fortunes at the beginning of the year.

Egaraten is also famous for being one of Japan's Three Great Tenjin (shrines dedicated to Tenjin - the deified form of Sugawara no Michizane) alongside Dazaifu Tenmangu in Fukuoka and Kyoto's Kitano Tenmangu. Egaraten Shrine is also smaller than its sisters but it has an air of sophistication and elegance.

The shrine's architecture and design (with a focus on hues of red and white) are very beautiful. It is also known for being a spot to see beautiful plum blossoms in early spring.

Visitors can also see the great omikoshi (portable shrine) in the shrine's grounds. Normally, omikoshi are carried by many people at festivals but here it is displayed throughout the year.

There is also a monument called efudezuka (kappa brush monument) created by 154 manga artists in celebration of great manga artist Kon Shimizu. If you are interested in manga, you will probably like this.

When visitors arrive at Kanazawa Street, they can also visit Sugimoto Temple and Hokoku Temple which are nearby. Egaraten Shrine is also reachable from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu on foot.

It is a dignified, elegant and picturesque shrine and I recommend people visit there.

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