On route one about half way between Chigasaki station and the border with Hiratsuka, there is a large tori gate standing seemingly by itself on the side of the highway. If you follow the road through the gate to its end, though, you’ll find a small shrine. Most people in the area have likely seen this gate and possibly even visited the shrine. What many people probably don’t realize, however, is that Tsurumine Hachimangu Shrine predates Chigasaki itself. In fact, it is one of the oldest places in the area.
Relative to Japan’s long heritage, Chigasaki is a very young city. It only reached city status in 1947 and until the Meji period, the area we know as Chigasaki now was just a collection of farmland and scattered, small villages. Hachimangu Shrine, however, is much older. The shrine was founded in the year 1030 and has been linked through the centuries to both Tsurugaoka Hachimangū Shrine in Kamakura and Samukawa Shrine. During the Edo period, the shrine was one of the only stopping points on the Tokaido road between the post towns of Fujisawa and Hiratsuka. The shrine itself is some distance from the road, but a large tori gate alongside the road let travelers know that there was a place to stop, rest, and pray. Modern Route 1 follows the path of the old Tokaido road, sending travelers past the old gate just like in years past.
Today, the shrine isn’t what it likely once was. The city has grown up around it and encroached somewhat onto the grounds. The beautiful old ponds are empty. All around it are the hustle and bustle of the city. Even so, it is a beautiful place to take a walk and Tsurumine Hachimangu Shrine is an important part of Chigasaki’s heritage. For that alone, it is worth checking out.
This article is from Chiagasaki Breeze #67.
Written and photographed by Dave Hanschen