Kyoto's spiritual and cultural hub - Kamigamo Shrine - Waku Waku

Explore, Experience
Enjoy Japan

Kyoto's spiritual and cultural hub - Kamigamo Shrine

Culture

Kyoto's spiritual and cultural hub - Kamigamo Shrine

Kamigamo Shrine (上賀茂神社, Kamigamo-Jinja), located in northern Kyoto, on the banks of the Kamo River, is an important sanctuary dedicated to the deity Kamowakeikazuchi Okami. With its long-standing culture and unique landscape, the shrine attracts many visitors from everywhere to visit and pray for good luck.

Le Honganhh

Le Honganhh

Published on 22 Jul, 12:00

One of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan

The shrine was built a long time ago. It was first established in 678, with the official name Kamo-awikazuchi Shrine (Kamo-wakeikazuchi jinja).

In Japanese, Kamo-jinja is a general term for two shrines, Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine, which are said to protect Kyoto from bad luck and misfortune.

Before the visit, I had read through some brochures about this shrine. It was indeed a place with a long history of cultural traditions, which many kings had visited.

Two structures are made of sand to represent the divine mountain
Two structures are made of sand to represent the divine mountain

The unique feature that caught my eye when I arrived in the Hosodono hall was two cone-shaped structures carefully made from sand, which made me very curious. After reading the explanation notes, I learned that these were Tatesuna and Saiden - which represented Mount Koyama, where the god Kamowakeikazuchi Okami descended from the heavens.

Charming plaques with wishes were hung in the shrine
Charming plaques with wishes were hung in the shrine

Coming to Kamigamo Shrine, I could not miss out on writing a prayer for peace on a wooden plaque with animal prints and then hanging it outside the main hall. Everyone sincerely prayed for their wishes to come true!

Registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site as a "Cultural property of ancient Kyoto"

The spacious area with diverse vegetation made the shrine's landscape look like a park, making it an ideal attraction for nature lovers. In the shrine's courtyard, there was a long strip of planted grass, which was where they organized horse racing during the festivals that took place at the shrine.

Poetic natural scenery
Poetic natural scenery

The scenery of the shrine was overwhelming, starting with the familiar Torii gate, which was "enormous" in size, painted in red that stood out on the background of a blue sky and green leaves. All of this created such a beautiful contrast!

The gate stood majestically in the middle of a blue sky
The gate stood majestically in the middle of a blue sky

After passing through the gate, there were beautiful stone walkways that led to small shrines. You could see that although it had been built a long time ago, thanks to good preservation and maintenance, the shrine looked very spacious and clean yet still retained its rustic and ancient features.

The place where pilgrims wash away the dust before entering the shrine
The place where pilgrims wash away the dust before entering the shrine

From the gate, I went through a meandering road leading to the main hall, surrounded by various beautiful trees and flowers. There were many different pathways to get to the small shrines. Some shrines had a typical red-painted bridge leading to them; others had ancient stone walkways leading the way.

Hoden was located outside the bright-colored, two-story Romon gate
Hoden was located outside the bright-colored, two-story Romon gate

During the festival season, the shrine was quite crowded and bustling with many people walking around, so on my second visit, I chose to go on a weekday to enjoy the fresh air and peaceful atmosphere.

The red-painted bridge leading to Romon gate was built across a clear stream
The red-painted bridge leading to Romon gate was built across a clear stream

A place for organizing distinctive festivals that attract visitors

Annually, in May, this shrine and Shimogamo-jinja Shrine jointly organize one of Kyoto's three largest festivals - Aoi Matsuri. The most memorable event of this festival was the parade from the Imperial Palace through the shrines, in which over 500 participants wore the costumes of nobles from the Heian period.

Decorations for the festival
Decorations for the festival

The Natsugoe "Purification" ritual was held at the end of June to wash away the past half-year's uncleanness, evil, and misfortunes by passing through a straw wheel

The Yoroi Kizome festival at the Kamigamo shrine
The Yoroi Kizome festival at the Kamigamo shrine

Finally, there was the Yoroi Kizome Japanese armor festival - an event that I was lucky enough to take part in when I visited the shrine on November 23rd of last year. Enjoying the unique atmosphere of the festival, I could admire the traditionally colored Samurai-simulating armor. The artisans would wear them and paraded around the shrine, which created a beautiful and bustling scene.

And there were other small festivals held in some parts of the shrine.

How to get here?

From the Kyoto center, you could get here quickly by bus or train. However, because I was nearby Kyoto station, I chose to take the bus for convenience. I took JR line 9 and then got off at Kamigamo Misono-kyo station, which took around 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Visiting Kamigamo Shrine, you will not only learn about Japan's spiritual culture and beliefs since a long time ago, but also admire the beautiful scenery that is hard to see in the city.

If you come to Kyoto, be sure to visit this shrine to enjoy the view and pray for a year of peace and plenty of good luck!

1
Le Honganhh

Le Honganhh

"You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like there’s nobody listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth."

From the same writer

The Japanese flowing noodle in summer - Nagashi Somen

Have you tried summer traditional cuisine in Japan? Somen(thin wheat noodle) ...

Le Honganhh Le Honganhh · Lifestyle · 5 months ago

0
The sacred place on the top Mount Oyama

Located on the border of Isehara, Hadano, and Atsugi in Kanagawa Prefecture, ...

Le Honganhh Le Honganhh · Travel · 13 days ago

0
Camping under the magical Kawaguchi sky

Kawaguchiko is a part of Yamanashi Province, located at the foot of Mount Fuj...

Le Honganhh Le Honganhh · Travel · 11 months ago

0

Read also

Got something wrong on our system. Please reload and try again!
Success action!