The Shonai Shrine stands on the grounds where the Shonai Domain castle, Tsurugaoka-jo, once stood. The castle was dismantled following the conclusion of the Boshin War in the 19th century. In 1877, the Shonai Shrine was established in its stead, dedicated to venerating the former feudal clan of the area, the Shonai Clan. The Shonai Clan, led by the Sakai family, arrived in the 17th century in Tsuruoka and made the region flourish thanks to the development of agricultural techniques and high educational standards. The Shonai Clan is famous for “never losing a war” in its history, even during the Boshin War. They were the last clan in all of Japan to surrender to the new government. For this reason, the Shonai Clan is still very much loved by the locals and worshiped as real deities in the Shonai Shrine.
Situated within Tsuruoka Park, the Shonai Shrine is positioned in what was once the precinct of the Tsurugaoka-jo castle (the Shonai Clan’s castle). It takes a central role in organizing major events within the park, such as the Shonai Taisai Festival held every year and the Tanabata celebrations on July 7th.
Annually in March, the shrine showcases its collection of Hina dolls as part of the Hinamatsuri festivities. This exhibition takes place in the “homotsuden” (Treasure Hall), a dedicated building within the shrine grounds.
In July, the shrine holds a series of events for the Tanabata Matsuri, including light-up events at night and floral decorations.

Spot Information

Shonai Taisai Festival

Hinamatsuri festivities

Tanabata celebrations