Nearest station

Kamakura

    Yokosuka Line

Kanagawa-ken, Kamakura-shi, Nikaidō 74

神奈川県鎌倉市二階堂74

荏柄天神社

   Egara Ten Jinja

Home page (Japanese)

May 12, 2018

Enshrined Kami:  

Main

(Note: numbers in parentheses after kami names

refer to position in How Many Kami table)

Sugawara no Michizane                 菅原道真

 

From Merged Shrines

Yakumo Ōkami                         八雲大神

In-ground Shrines:

Kumano Kongen-sha

熊野権現社

 

​Annual Festival:  July 25 

History

In a text published in 735,  the Sagamikuni-fukosu-kōekichō, the pronunciation for the two characters, 荏柄, is given as Egaya and this shrine was known as Egayasan-Tenman- Gū. Later, however, the pronunciation morphed into Egara.

One day in 1104, a clear blue sky suddenly darkened and during an ensuing thunderstorm an image of Tenjin (Sugawara Michizane) dressed in black ceremonial court dress fell from the sky.  Awe stricken, the villagers built a jinja in which the image was enshrined.  Note that this proceeds the 1180 arrival of the Minamotos in Kamakura.
When Minamoto Yoritomo set up the Kamakura bakufu seat of government in 1180 it was located just to the east

of Tsurugaoka Hachiman-Gū in a place then called Ōkura. This meant that Egara Tenjin was situated to the inauspicious northeast (Kimon, lit. "Demon's Gate) of the government offices. Yoritomo was highly appreciative of the symbolic protection offered by the shrine and had the main hall rebuilt.  The Azuma Kagami tells us that on the 300th anniversary of the death of Sugawara Michizane, Yoritomo's son and heir, Yoshiie, appointed Ōe Hiromoto as the imperial messenger to the shrine to oversee the ceremonies.

In 1735 the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-Gū was rebuilt and the timber with which the original structures had been built was donated to the Egara Ten Jinja, where it was used to rebuild the shrine buildings. Jumping forward to the twentieth century, Tsurugaoka Hachiman-Gū did not escape the ravages of the Great Kantō Earthquake and had to rebuild. Temporary structures were quickly built and when real rebuilding took place the temporary structures were donated to Egara Ten Jinja, where they were erected and still stand.

A notice board in the shrine grounds tells us that along with Dazaifu Tenman-Gū in Fukuoka and Kitano Tenman-Gū in Kyōto it is "amongst the three old Tenjins in Japan." This is almost certainly the case, but the shrine's home page states that is one of the three SanTen-Jinja (The Big 3 Tenjinja, 三天神社). The first two definitely belong in the Big 3, but Egara Tenjin is just one of at least eight candidates for the third spot, along with Kamedo Ten Jinja

Description

This shrine, and its surroundings, have much to please both the discerning and undiscerning eye, but the most unusual object in the shrine is surely the E-fudetsuka (絵筆塚, lit. “Ink Brush Mound.”) Designed by Yokoyama Ryūichi (横山隆一), one of Japan's most famous mangaka (cartoonist), it was put up in 1989 in honour of Shimizu Kon (清水崑), a predecessor of Yokoyama. Made of bronze, it weighs 800 kg, is 3 m tall and 1m wide. For his part Shimizu had installed a Kappa-fudetsuka (かっぱ筆塚) in the shrine in 1971. The Efudetzuka features the kappa-inspired work of 154 of Japan's leading manga-ka and they are all instantly recognizable to most Japanese. 

(Click on images to expand them)

Egara Ten Jinja   荏柄天神社
Egara Ten Jinja   荏柄天神社
Egara Ten Jinja   荏柄天神社
Kumano-Kongen-sha  熊野権現社
Kumano-Kongen-sha  熊野権現社
Kumano-Kongen-sha  熊野権現社
E-fudetsuka 絵筆塚

E-fudetsuka (to left and right)

Kappa-fudetsuka (below)

Kappa-fudetsuka かっぱ筆塚
E-fudetsuka 絵筆塚
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© Rod Lucas 2016-2019

All text and photos by Lucas unless otherwise stated