At the shrine which serves as a symbol of Kamakura, the samurai society of the Medieval Period is revived.
By the 12th Century, Kamakura had developed into a center of Japanese politics and culture equaling Kyoto. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is a historic shrine and a symbol of Kamakura. During the Kamakura Matsuri, which is a festival held at this shrine, the entire town of Kamakura is bustling with parades of mikoshi (portable shrines) and musical bands.
The main attractions are the shizuka no mai dance performed in the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine on the second Sunday and yabusame on the third Sunday.
The shizuka no mai dance is performed on the ritual dance stage. It reproduces the scene of a master dancer named Princess Shizuka performing a dance before her enemies and expressing her love for the warlord Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune (1159-1189?). Shizuka is a well-known tragic heroine in Japan. Although she was Yoshitsune's beloved, she was forced to abandon him and was taken captive by the warlord Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (1147 - 1199) who was Yoshitsune's enemy. In spite of her plight, Shizuka's dance overflowed with her love for Yoshitsune. This invited the enemy's anger. Shizuka was imprisoned and her children were killed.
Yabusame too, is also a revival of medieval samurai skills at shooting arrows on horseback. While galloping through a riding ground approximately 200 meters long, the archer shoots an arrow at its target. It is said that Minamoto-no-Yoritomo came up with the idea of this event as a shrine festival with the aim of strengthening the mental power of the samurai warriors. Unfortunately however, there are fewer and fewer archers having such advanced skills today. A large-scale yabusame event is also held in September.
From Tokyo:[Rail]10 minutes'walk from Kamakura Station. Kamakura Station is on the JR Yokosuka Line from JR Tokyo Station.
Place: Second Sunday - Third Sunday of April
Dates: Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
City: Yukinoshita, Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture