Tokyobling's Blog

Goryo Shrine and Kamakura Gongoro Kagemasa

Posted in Japanese Traditions, Places by tokyobling on February 17, 2015

The wonderful tiny Goryo Shrine in the city of Kamakura to the southwest of Tokyo is dedicated to the 11th century warrior Kamakura Gongoro Kagemasa, born in 1069 A.D. He was a samurai of the might Taira clan, and his first claim to fame was in 1085 during the Gosannen War when he fought for the Minamoto clan. During the early part of the battle his eye was shot through by an enemy arrow, piercing his visor. From his point on the stockade he quickly pulled out his own bow and slew his attacker with a single arrow. Despite having the arrow lodged in his eye socket he continued fighting until his side finally won. Safely back in camp one of his friends volunteered to pull the arrow out by putting his foot Gongoro’s forehead, a huge insult to any self respecting samurai. After having berated the poor fellow for his lack of manners Gongoro had the arrow removed in a more honorable fashion. To commemorate his bravery the shrine to this day is marked with a crest showing two arrows fletchings and people with eye problems traditionally comes here to pray. Naturally, his physical bravery and good reputation proved to be a hit with the ladies and he sired not one but two mighty samurai clans, the Nagae and Kagawa clans. By enshrining his spirit in this shrine it is hoped that his soul will find rest and that it won’t be back to haunt his former enemies.

Another peculiar thing with this shrine is how close it is to the train line of the Enoden Line, which runs barely a couple of feet from the front gate of the shrine, making it a popular spot for trainspotters and photographers alike. The shrine is also the home of many famous trees and even more Gongoro memorabilia which I will talk about later. Among locals, the shrine is often called Gongoro-san, to show respect and familiarity with the great samurai.












12 Responses

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  1. Junko said, on February 17, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Aaaah, such a glorious tale! No wonder my daughter is mesmerized.


  2. JUURI said, on February 17, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    I’m working on the piece at this very moment! Thank you for the inspiration!


  3. icthelion said, on February 17, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    Fascinating. What was your source material? Did the shrine itself have a pamphlet in English describing it?


    • tokyobling said, on February 18, 2015 at 6:41 am

      I used a few different sources and there is a million more things to tell about this person and this shrine but I try not to be too wordy. No one wants to read it all! There are a few signs at the shrine itself to give the general overview but they are not very detailed and also written in pretty daunting Japanese, no pamphlets or anything in English at all. The old lady working at the shrine was very kind and helpful though!


      • icthelion said, on February 18, 2015 at 10:55 pm

        Almost every shrine has a lot of local flavor and a very interesting history. It’s a shame that there is so rarely an explanation in English.


        • tokyobling said, on February 19, 2015 at 4:59 am

          Indeed! But then again, that is one of the reasons I blog. When all the shrines have English pamphlets that is when I can hang up my hat rest my feet. (^-^)

          Liked by 1 person

  4. lostintravelblog said, on February 17, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    Top! 🙂


  5. rudyhou said, on March 11, 2015 at 8:47 am

    i like that old interlocking system of the wooden architecture. a smart design that is no longer made in this day and age.


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