The shrine was founded in 716 CE by Prince Go Yak'gwang (高若光) of the Goguryeo kingdom of Korea. The Prince was dispatched to Japan to garner support for the Goruryeo Kingdom following an invasion by Silla and Tang dynasty China, but ended up settling in Japan, along with approximately 1,800 other Koreans.
Following the annexation of Korea by Japan, the Koma Shrine was used as a symbol by Japanese government officials, including Governor-General of Korea Jirō Minami, for the assimilation and unification of the Korean and Japanese people. In 1934 the Koma Jinja Hosan-kai was founded in order to preserve and restore the shrine, headed by then-Minister of Colonial Affairs Hideo Kodama.
Approximately 300,000 tourists visit the shrine annually.
The shrine deifies a Prince Go Yak'gwang (高若光) of the Koma clan (later known as Genbu Jakkō (玄武若光)) who arrived in Japan fleeing political unrest in Korea. Yakgwang reportedly introduced the cultivation of silkworms and mulberry, leading to his deification as Koma Myojin following his death.
Its priests are believed to be descendants of the Koma family. The shrine is currently presided over by Koma Fumiyasu, whom according to the Koma-shi keizu genealogical scroll is a sixty-second generation direct descendant of Jakkō.
- The Associated Press (September 20, 2017). "Japan's emperor visits shrine for ancient Korean settlers". ABC News.
- "Japan's emperor to visit Koma shrine related to ancient Korean kingdom". Yonhap. September 19, 2017. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
- Choi, Hyun-soo (February 2009). "Finding Traces of Goguryeo Culture in Japan". Korea Foundation.
- Sorensen, Clark W.; Arai, Andrea Gevurtz, eds. (2016). Spaces of Possibility: In, Between, and Beyond Korea and Japan. University of Washington Press. ISBN 9780295998527.
- Watanabe, Hiroshi (2001). The Architecture of Tokyo: An Architectural History in 571 Individual Presentations. Edition Axel Menges. p. 45. ISBN 9783930698936.