Yakumo Shrine – Kamakura City
One of my absolute favorites among the many tiny shrines dotted around the historic Kamakura City southwest of Tokyo is the wonderful little Yakumo Shrine (八雲神社), hidden near the base of the mountains in the Omachi neighborhood. It is actually one of three Yakumo Shrines in Kamakura alone, a testament to the deep popular love for this branch of shinto shrines. The shrine was founded sometime around 1082, when a great Shogun, Minamoto Yoshimitsu, passed through Kamakura on his way to battles in northern Japan. At the time there were many epidemics troubling the people of Kamakura and the Yoshimitsu thought it would be best to establish a shrine branch form the famous Gion shrine in Kyoto (present day Yasaka Shrine) which was famous for its ability to ward of sickness. The epidemics subsided in 1084 and since then the shrine has been immensely popular in Kamakura. It is actually one of the oldest shrines in the city. In 1868 the Gion shrines were all forced to change their names, and the shrine in Kamakura started calling itself Yakumo Shrine, although true locals still call it by its old nickname, Gion-san. There is another great and well hidden reason to visit this shrine, but I will save that for a post later on!