2. Sightseeing TOP
  3. Goryo Jinja
Goryo Jinja
Official NameGoryo Jinja
Religious sectShinto
Foundedin Latter half of the 12th century
by unknown
Main object of worshipSpirit of a brave samurai
Address3-17 Sakanoshita, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0021 (show route from current location )
Location1,800 meters southwest of Kamakura Station
Time needed to get there25 minutes
AdmissionFree (open yard)
Phone number0467-22-3251
RestroomsNot available
Historical Overview

The Shrine is dedicated to the soul of an extraordinarily brave samurai with great physical strength who had lived here before the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). His name is Kagemasa (Gongoro) Kamakura {kah-ghe-mah-sah (gon-go-roe) kah-mah-koo-rah} (1069-?), thereby local people call the Shrine"Gongoro-san". (san is an honorific).

At the age of 16, he joined a battle at a southern part of Akita Prefecture as a retainer of Yoshiie Minamoto {yoh-she-e-a me-nah-moh-toh} (1039-1106, great-grandfather of Yoritomo Minamoto, the founder of Kamakura Shogunate). During the bitter battle, his left eye was shot by an enemy's arrow. Undaunted, he bravely continued fighting. When he came back to the camp, the arrow was still in his eye. His colleague tried to help remove it putting his foot on Kagemasa's forehead. Kagemasa got furious and accused the colleague of his rude manner. Samurai were full of pride and self-respect those days, and the face being stepped on by foot meant to break the samurai code and was never bearable for Kagemasa. The colleague apologized for his rudeness and the arrow was eventually pulled out in proper manner. To commemorate this episode, a pair of fletchings were employed as the crest of the Shrine and they appear on the tiles of roof. Kagemasa's prowess and manner were highly praised as a role model of Kanto samurai. Hence the Shrine is credited by the locals with its power of healing eye diseases. Also to praise his braveness, a Jizo statue named Yagara (arrow) was made and had been enshrined at Engakuji. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by the 1923 earthquake. Today, a stone monument for this statue stands at Keisho-an of Engakuji and is listed 14th of the Kamakura Twenty-Four Jizo Pilgrimage.

In the Shrine's ground, there are a pair of round stones which are dubbed Tamoto-ishi {tah-moh-toh e-she} or a "sleeve stone" and Tedama-ishi {teh-dah-mah} or a "stone in one's hand". Legend has it that the larger stone (left) weighing 105 kilograms was in Kagemasa's sleeve-pocket and the smaller one weighing 60 kilograms was in his palm as if they had been his toys. The stones are to show he was a man of muscle.

There are quite a few Jinja named Goryo in Japan. Go is a prefixal honorific and ryo means souls. According to Shinto dogma, those who died an unnatural death, died by violence or in a state of anger or resentment need to be buried with courtesy and reverence, and their souls should be enshrined. Otherwise, it is believed, people will incur divine wrath and punishment, or revenge will be exacted by the malevolent spirits of the dead. Goryo Jinja were thus erected throughout Japan to exorcise evil spirits, and special services are performed regularly to soothe the revengeful spirits. In the Shrine, wooden statues of Kagemasa and his wife are enthroned on the altar, but they are not visible. As usual in Shinto shrines, only a round mirror is placed in the center.

One of the Seven Deities of Good Fortune

In the storage house down the main hall are masks to be worn at the Mengake {men-gah-keh} Procession. The door is usually closed. Visitors can view them paying a fee of 100-yen to the Shrine office. Among the ten masks is that of Fukurokuju {foo-koo-roh-koo-jew} or the God of Wealth and it is one of Kamakura Shichifukujin {she-chee-fook-gin} or the Seven Deities of Good Fortune. The office is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.