Kamakura: Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

When we arrived in Kamakura about an hour after leaving Tokyo, the sun had come out. We dropped bags at our hotel and walked to Cafe Goatee for Dan’s brother’s soundcheck. The cafe is on the third level, so there was a little bit of a view out the window. While waiting, I saw several raptors circling and playing in the air currents and noticed that they looked like the black kites kites we saw in the the display at the Institute for Nature Study. After soundcheck, we had a little time before we had to be back for the show, so we walked up to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. It was about 5 p.m., and the light was beautiful. 

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu has been at this location since 1191, and is the most important shrine in Kamakura. It was moved here by Minamoto no Yoritomo, who founded the Kamakura shogunate that ruled Japan for about 150 years. The shrine is at the heart of the city of Kamakura, both geographically and culturally; the nearly 2 km approach to the shrine is still the main road through the city. For a large part of it’s history, about 700 years, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu was also a Buddhist temple. This ended with the Shinto and Buddhism Separation Order implemented by the Meiji government in 1868.

The three of us walked through the grounds, and then Dan and I stayed to shoot some more when his brother went back to get ready for his show. As the evening moved further toward dusk, we got to see hundreds of kites begin to gather around the Genji pond, circling in the sky, diving into the pond to feed, and then roosting in the trees. 

After we finished watching the kites, we returned to Cafe Goatee for the show. It’s a tiny club that feels almost like a living room, and a great intimate venue for the concert. We enjoyed home baked goodies during the show, and then were invited to stay for the post-show dinner that included beef curry, tortillas with tomato, guacamole, spicy chickpeas, potato salad with fish roe. It was a good evening all around.