Right in front of Kobe station is Minatogawa Shrine [湊川神社]. Although this shrine is the most famous shrine in Kobe, few know why a shrine is near such a big station like Kobe. The truth is that this very shrine is the site one of the most important battles in of Japan, Minatogawa Battle, happened. This battle lead to the death of Kusunoki Masashige, and in short practically ending the infamous government of Go-daigo.
Getting to Minatogawa Shrine
The closest stations to Minatogawa Shrine are the JR Kobe Station and the Hashin/Hankyu Kosoku-Kobe Station. If you take the Hanshin or Hankyu Line, get off at Kosoku-Kobe Station, which is right in front of the shrine.
You will see the huge torii of Minatogawa Shrine right in front of Kosoku-Kobe Station. Given how big they are makes it very clear how important this shrine is to Japanese people.
The Minatogawa Battle between Ahsikaga Takauji and Go-daigo happened around here in 1336. After his defeat, Kusunoki Masahisge, the leader of Go-daigo’s army, he and his brother killed themselves, vowing that they would be reborn to loyally serve the emperor once more. Out of respect for his loyal spirit, the Meiji commissioned the shrine’s construction during the Meiji Restoration in 19th.
The honden of Minatogawa Shrine, built in 1952, is quite new as the original burnt down completely in WWII. The main deity here is Kusonoki’s family, including Kusnoki Masashige. Around the time of the Meiji Restoration at the end of 19th century, many famous samurai, such as Takasugi Shinsaku and Sakamoyo Ryoma, visited this shrine to pay respect to Kusunoki Masashige.
Behind the honden is a little mound where Kusunoki Masahige allegedly killed himself. Unfortunately, it is locked…..
Kusunoki Masashige’s Memorial
Right next to the shrine’s entrance is a narrow path that leads to a commemorative grave of Masashige. Tokugawa Mitsukuni, aka Mito Komon, made this grave in the Edo Period (17th century). Obviously this was made before the shrine, so you say that this is the very beginning of the shrine.
3-1-1 Tamondori, Chuo Ward, Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture