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11-Romon 楼門 (Great Gate)

This gate was rebuilt in 1930 after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. Standing in front of the gate you can see in a straight line down the Wakamiya-Oji, past the Great Torii Gate and all the way to the sea, forming the backbone of the city of Kamakura as intended by Yoritomo.

On either side of the entrance to the Great Gate are two large statues. These were a gift to the shrine from the Second Tokugawa Shogun Hidetada in 1624, and are a precious survival from the original building of the shrine. They represent two kami, Toyoiwamado-no-kami and Kushiiwamado-no-kami, and protect the gate from evil spirits.

Above the entrance into the gate under the eaves is a large black lacquered plaque bearing the name of the shrine, Hachimangu, written in 1629 by Prince Ryoujo, famous for his calligraphy. The first Chinese character, the Chinese character for the number eight (hachi), is written in the form of two doves. Doves are the messengers of the Hachiman kami.

Around the gate are a number of carvings. Above the main entrance through the gate there is a dragon amongst clouds, flanked by two tigers amongst bamboo. The dragon symbolizes the main entrance into the shrine. Tigers and the dragon are there to prevent evil entering the gate. Tigers are a reference to this world, whereas the dragon represents the heavens.

On the left of the gate are two cows, and there are two horses on the right side of the gate. Cows symbolize the kami of transportation and agriculture. Horses are associated with the Buddhist God which was thought to swallow all destructive and disturbing emotions (kleshas).

Inside the gate are three fierce-looking carvings, which are there to expel devils. The back of the Main Gate building faces North-East which was considered to be the direction from which devils come.

 

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