Once known as Egara-san Tenmangu Shrine, this place is counted as one of Japan’s three great Tenjin Shrines, along with Fukuoka’s Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine and Kyoto’s Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.
It is said that around the middle of the Heian Period (A.D. 12th), a depiction of Tenjin fell to earth during a thunderstorm. This was revered by the local villagers and from that time that the shrine was built and worship began.
When Minamoto Yoritomo established the Shogunate in Okura (around the current location of Yukinoshita 3) the shrine was worshipped as the protector of the so-called Kimon, unlucky northeasterly direction.
The grounds of the shrine are a Registered National Historical Site, and the main shrine has been designated as a National Important Cultural Property.
Egara Tenjinsha Shrine was built in 1104.
It is amongst the three old Tenjins in Japan, namely Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.
Tenjinsha or Tenmangu Shrine was built in memory of Sugawarano Michizane(845-903).
Sugawarano Michizane, later deified as Tenjin or god of scholarship, was a scholar, politician, and an excellent poet, who served the court during the Heian Period.
Legend asserts that when Minamotono Yoritomo founded the Kamakura Shogunate government on the south western side of Egara Tenjinsha Shrine, he worshipped the shrine to ward off evils that comes from this corner called Kimon or tabooed corner.
In later years, Egara Tenjin Shrine was venerated as the tutelary deity for shogunate Sugawarano Michizane’s poetic talents.
A main shrine behind the oratory building is designated as National Important Cultural Properties.
It was relocated from Teurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine to Egara Tenjinsha Shrine during the renovation of Tsurugaoka Hchimangu Shrine that started in 1622.
This evidence suggested that most likely this building was Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine’s, rebuilt in 1316.
On the east side of the gate, there is a large gingko tree which is designated as Kamakura city’s Natural Monument.
It is believed that Tenjin’s appearance was made where this giant gingko tree now stands.