Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto

Kamigamo Jinja, a sacred Shinto shrine that is now a World Heritage Site, was originally founded on the eastern bank of the Kamogawa River at the foot of Mount Ko in the 7th century, even before Kyoto became the imperial capital. Kamigamo Shrine’s forested grounds and clear flowing streams create a sanctuary of spiritual purity and seasonal beauty. The shrine pavilions, gates, bridges, and ceremonial halls are outstanding examples of refined traditional architecture. The historical Aoi Matsuri festival procession of imperial messenger, oxcarts, horses, and attendants in Heian-era apparel culminates at Kamigamo Shrine each year on May 15th.

Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto Photo Gallery

No matter the weather or season, Kamigamo Shrine’s spiritual atmosphere is potent and inspiring, and often holds a special surprise in store for the observant visitor. One might glimpse a sacred white horse messenger being bridled or a Shinto wedding ceremony conducted just beyond the symbolic conical silvery-white sand tatezuna, each precisely sculpted and topped with a single pine needle. Misty rain blowing down from the mountain may disperse the still reflection of a new bride’s pure white kimono in the crystal clear Myojin River as kannushi priests emerge with large oilpaper bangasa umbrellas held above their colorful silk ceremonial robes and black-lacquered wooden asagutsu shoes.

Symbolic tatezuna sand cones at the Hosodono Haiden Hall.

The Nino Torii Gate of the inner shrine.

A still life of ferns and maple leaves along the narrow Nara River.

Paper lanterns with a lotus design placed in the shrine’s sandy courtyard at twilight.

A procession of Shinto priests with sturdy oilpaper bangasa umbrellas.

The sacred Honden, Kamigamo’s Main Sanctuary Hall, is a National Treasure.

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