In 1191, Minamoto no Yoritomo, moved the shrine from its original location in Zaimokuza and incorporated Feng Shui to bring about a prosperous design for the shrine and the city of Kamakura. Inspired by the approach for Kyoto’s Heian Jingu, Yoritomo built a majestic approach from the sea to the shrine and in doing so set the general layout of the city for centuries to come.
Originally, the grounds also contained many Buddhist temples as well, but these were removed during the Meiji Era (under a law requiring separation of Shinto and Buddhist worship),with the unfortunate result being a loss of much of the original splendor.
At the entrance to the shrine are 3 bridges. The central arched bridge used to be wooden and was called ‘Akabashi’ (Red Bridge). It was reserved for the Shogun himself. In 1697, it was replaced with a stone bridge, called Taikobashi (after the Japanese drum). The ponds to either side are known as the Genpei Ponds, with the left pond and its white lotus blossoms representing the Minamoto clan, while the right represents the Taira Clan (with purple blossoms to signify the blood spilt as they were defeated).
At the bottom of the stairs that lead to the main shrine is a large raised stage called the ‘Maidan’ where numerous dance performances, plays, and other events are held throughout the year. After climbing the stairs to the main shrine, be sure to turn around and take in the view- on a clear day you can see all the way to the ocean.
Although most of the Shinto structures may seem similar, the true beauty is in the juxtaposition of colors and the detailed workmanship. Let your eyes wonder to find the hidden treasures.
Open Daily 6am-8:30pm (Jan.1-3 Open 24 hours)
Address: Yuki no Shita 2-1-31 Map