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Precinct Guide

15-Wakamiya Shrine 若宮

Enshrined kami:
Emperor Nintoku
Emperor Richu
Empress Nakano
Empress Iwano
Main Annual Rite:
3rd April

Emperor Ojin’s children and spouse are enshrined here.

In 1063, Minamoto Yoriyoshi who had prayed for success in the suppression of the rebellion in the North-East of Japan at the Iwashimizu Hachiman Shrine in Kyoto, built a shrine to the Hachiman kami one the beach at Kamakura. This was moved to the current location in 1180, and is the predecessor of the current shrine.

In Japanese the name Wakamiya, or young shrine, has two interpretations. Initially, when the first Wakamiya shrine was built here, it housed the kami that had been brought here from the original shrine at the beachfront. This shrine was called the Wakamiya because the shrine was younger than the Iwashimizu Shrine in Kyoto from whence the kami was brought. This shrine burnt down in 1191.

When the Wakamiya shrine was rebuilt, soon after the fire, in addition to the current Wakamiya shrine at the bottom of the steps, an upper shrine was added, giving the present form of an upper and lower shrine. The kami that had been enshrined in what is now the lower shrine were enshrined in the upper shrine, and the children of the upper shrine were enshrined in the lower shrine. Thus the meaning of Wakamiya now refers to the fact that the lower shrine kami and the children of the upper shrine kami and therefore younger. The Wakamiya shrine is in the same architectural style as the Honden Main Shrine building. The Wakamiya Shrine was rebuilt in 1624 by Tokugawa Hidetada (the 2nd Tokugawa shogun) and is designated a nationally important cultural property.

Although somewhat difficult to see, there are carvings of Chinese lions all around the building. These became common at the end of the Muromachi period (1336-1573), and are often coupled with the peony, to give the king of beasts and the king of flowers. The lions are often coloured blue since the Monju Bosatsu, Buddhist bodhisattva of wisdom, is normally found seated on a blue lion.


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