Large Tori at the entrance of Shimogamo Jinja ShrineThe Shimogamo Jinja Shrine, also known as Kamomioya-jinja Shrine, is together with its sister shrine Kamigamo Jinja, the family shrine of the Kamo clan, who inhabited this area before the transfer of the capital to Kyoto.

Shimogamo Jinja ShrineShimogamo Jinja Shrine nestles between the fork of the Kamogawa and Takanogawa rivers and is surrounded by a shady path through an old scenic forest. With the rivers on both sides, and with several small streams flowing through the grounds, Shimogamo is refreshingly cool in summer, and many people stroll there day and night to enjoy the peaceful surroundings and the rich atmosphere of mystical purity.

The grounds of Shimogamo contain beautiful vermillion-colored wooden buildings, curving bridges over the little streams, and several smaller shrines. Shimogamo-jinja Shrine is the sister shrine of Kamigamo-jinja, which lies a few kilometers north, and together the two shrines host the annual Aoi Matsuri, a parade of people in period costume that is one of Kyoto’s three big annual festivals and a must-see if you are in the city on May 15th.

Shimogamo Jinja Shrine
Curved bridge and tori at the Shimogamo Jinja Shrine
Little shrines for each year animal at the Shimogamo Jinja Shrine


We enjoyed visiting this shrine during special events such as the Nagoshi no Shinji purification ceremony held in August.

The entrance building with the Kaya no Wa Kuguri ring

The Nagoshi no Shinji purification ceremony
The entrance building by night

The Myth

The ancestor of the Kamo clan, Kamotaketsunomi-no-mikoto, is said to have descended to earth on the grounds of Mt. Mikage, a mountain east of Kyoto. According to Shinto beliefs, this god metamorphosed into the three-legged deity of the sun, Yatagarasu. In this form, he led the legendary first emperor of Japan, Jimmu, throughout the Kyoto countryside and finally settled at the future site of the Shimogamo shrine. This great god’s daughter, Tamayorihime-no-mikoto, attended to her ritual duties on the shrine grounds. One day while purifying her body in the Kamo river, she saw an arrow floating downstream. Unknowingly, she picked up the arrow, placed it on the shore, which before her eyes turned into a beautiful god. Shocked and smitten, she married the god and begot a child. Her son took on another avatar of the Shinto arrow, as the thunder god. Worshipped at Shimogamo’s sister shrine, Kamigamo, the thunder god Wakeikazuchi is said to have all the power of thunder when it impregnates the land with life. His mother’s legacy is therefore one of productive marriage and parenting.


More info

Address: 59 Izumigawa-cho, Shimogamo, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City

Tel. 075-781-0010

Access: 10-minute walk from Demachiyanagi Station on the Keihan Railway or Eizan Railway City Bus from Kitaoji Subway Station/JR Kyoto Station/Hankyu Kawaramachi Station to City Bus Stop Shimogamo-jinja

Hours: 6:00 – 17:00


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