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How to properly Enjoy Kamakura: Part 13 Egara Tenjinsha Shrine 荏柄天神社

Why this shrine?

1) You want to see a giant ancient Gingko and a Juniper tree(s). N.B. Juniper symbolizes the marriage between two faiths, Shintoism and Buddhism.
2) You have an interest in the life of Sugawara no Michizane, a real person who is deified as the god of literature.
3) You have an interest in 12th Century mythology

First,  take notice of your surroundings.  Welcome to the Eastside of  Kamakura City which is divided into several towns, kus, and machis.  ( * Ku = ward / Machi = smaller towns or areas)  Each town with its own natural characteristics.  I haven't covered other places with this much inspection, but Nikaido area is affluent and worthy of observation.  Nikaido is a showpiece area with three major temples and shrines:  Zuisenji, Tenjinsha, and Kamakura-gu!

The best season to visit this shrine is in spring, unlike Autumn where places on the Westside of Kamakura are better.   This shrine is famous for plum blossoms, a favorite of the ruling class, and of Michizane himself.   Egara Tenjin Shrine is among the three most highly regarded Tenjin, other two being Dazaifu Temmangu (太宰府天満宮) in Kyushu, the last one being  Kitano Temmangu (北野天満宮) in Kyoto.   

Main Shrine.  Leftside is for votive tablets

I would say the highest percentage of tourist to visit this shrine would be students who are preparing for entrance exams.    They come to pray for good luck on their exams by purchasing votive wooden prayer tablets.  Others come to check their oracle, and if it's bad luck they tie the paper up here.  There is another place for wooden Ema / votive tablet.  

This shrine predates the establishment of the Kamakura government thereby making this one of the oldest religious edifices in Kamakura next to Sugimotodera.

You notice the colors used on this ancient shrine are bright which signifies the court nobility of the Heian Period - largely from China.   Original Japanese shrines do not use paint or highly stylized decorations on shrines.   Wood itself is deified as a god and therefore is already perfect and beautiful.

This Gingko tree was planted before this shrine was established and is the second oldest in Kamakura.  ( sigh...if trees could talk).   The rope around the middle signifies that this tree is a god.

This building you see is where you can buy souvenirs and trinkets.  You can also check your fortune here as well.

Most military victories in Japan were prayed for here at Egara Tenjinsha, this could be another association to why students come here to pray for victory over their entrance exams.   Once you pray here you win!   Even the great Ieyasu prayed here before going into battle and this is another reason why this shrine has been receiving so many donations for centuries!

You can reach here by the Daito no Miya Bus stop.


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