- The short history of Kamigamo shrine
- The crest of Kamogamo shrine
- Yatagarasu 八咫烏
- What to see in Kamigamo shrine? みどころ
- Main building (National treasure) 本殿
- Hosodono 細殿
- Tate-zuna 立て砂
- Romon (National Treasure) 楼門
- Kataoka-sya a.k.a. Kayayama miko jinjya
- Kataoka-basi and Tama-basi 片岡橋と玉橋
- Hashidono a.k.a. Maidono (National Treasure) 橋殿/舞殿
- Gakunoya (National Treasure) 楽屋
- Tsuchinoya (National Treasure) 土屋
- Ganjyo 岩上
- Syo kei en 渉渓園
- Shinme-sya 神馬舎
- The fusion of the Shinto and the Buddhism 神仏習合
- Amulets of Kamigamo-shrine お守りなど
- Omikuji-fortune telling おみくじ
- Annual events of Kamigamo shrine 行事
- Access to Kamigamo shrine
- About Kamigamo shrine
The short history of Kamigamo shrine
“Kamigamo shrine” is a de facto name of “Kamo wake ikazuchi shrine”. It enshrines “Kamo-wake ikazuchi no kami”, the deity of vigorous thunder.
“Kamo” means the Kamo clan which inhabited around the northern part of ancient Kyoto.
“Ikazuchi” has the same meaning as “Kaminari”. We can devide the word into two words. “kami” and “nari”. “Kami” means deity and “nari” means “sound”. The origin of the word “kaminari” is “Sound made by deity”. So, we adored thunder with awe. in the ancient times.
The official history of Kamigamo shrine indicates the deity descended on the mt. Koyama.
On the other hand, Yamashiro no kuni Fudoki (the report of ancient Kyoto province),indicates that: Tamayoribime found an arrow and brought back it to home. She put it on her bedroom and it made her pregnant.
In 709 A.C., the capital moved to Kyoto from Nara. After the transfer of the capital, Kamigamo shrine was enlisted in “Nijyu-nisya (22 shrines) ” which protects the capital. When our country was in a critical condition, like huge expansion of epidemic, Nijyu-nisya shrines received dedication of the Imperial court. Niju-nisya desereved this highest honor.
Around the late 15th century, the dedication ceased because the largest civil war in the Medieval ages in Japan took place and the Imperial court was on decline politically and financially.
Sometimes the Imperial court tried to resume the dedication only to fail.
In the 19th century, Kamogamo shrine was enlisted as one of three “Chokusai-sya”. Chokusai-sya is a shrine which deserves a visit of a messenger of the emperor. Kamigamo shrine still is in Chokusai-sya. At Aoi matsuri festival, the emperor send his messenger.
Today, Kamigamo shrine has 2 National Treasures of Japan and is listed as the world Heritage site.
The crest of Kamogamo shrine
The crest of Kamigamo shrine is “Aoi (the leaves in the picture. The crests are embroidered in the red part of the wooden curtain behind the leaves. )”. The word is devided into two words and the words transformed “Ahu” and “Hi” each other in the old Japanese language. These words mean “We see Deity”.
We often see a three-legged crow in Kamigamo shrine. The crow is called “Yatagarasu”. It guided the emperor Jimmu, the first emperor of Japan, through his Odyssey. It is believed that Yatagarasu is Kamo wake taketsunumi no mikoto, the founder of the Kamo clan.
He is enshrined in Kuga shrine, the sub-shrine of Kamigamo shrine.
What to see in Kamigamo shrine? みどころ
Main building (National treasure) 本殿
The main hall of Kamigamo shrine is listed as National treasures of Japan because it has typical “Nagare-zukuri” construction. Take a look at the picture above. The front side of the roof of the shrine is longer than the back side of it. That is a “Nagare-zukuri”. (The shrine in the photo is not a main building of Kamigamo shrine.)
Though the main hall is National treasure, we can’t see it usually. Click the picture above. You can see a banner kanjis and 42 are written. Under the banner, there is a gate and we can’t go beyond the gate except special occasion.
The picture and the video above tell you what is like inside of Takakura-den. The picture was taken in a ritual called “Hakuba sohran shinji”. In the ritual, we let the Deity see a horse. So, he stands in front of the main building. He sees ahead a small corridor, a place filled with white pebbles, and the main building. In the video, a priestess is on the corridor and let him eat soy beans. If the emperor pays a visit to the shrine, he prays on the pebbles. He is the only person to be there.
In special occasion, we can be the same place where the horse stands in the picture.
The main hall has a corridor around it and there is a pair of Komainu. (We cannot take picture of the main hall.) Kamainu is a guardian of shrine and temple.
The peculiar thing in Kamigamo shrine is that it has two-main halls. “Honden (main hall)” and “Gonden (sub-hall)”. Gonden is a substitute for Honden in case of emergency in which we cannot use Honden and “Shikinen-sengu”.
Shikinen-sengu is a reconstruction of a main hall of the Shinto shrine. Around 10 of 80,000 shrines carry it on. Kamigamo shrine practices it every 20 years. Originally, Shikinen sengu needs reconstruction of the building but that of Kamigamo shrine exercise only the reconstruction of the roof because we cannot make large modification of properties of Natonal treasure in terms of law. We have a good example. As I indicated in the article of Kinkakuji temple, the golden pavilion was caught by fire to burnt out. When it happened, Kinkakuji was listed as National treasure. The government crossed Kinkakuji off the list of National Treasure for the purpose of reconstruction.
When the emperor or “Saioh”, the priestess on behalf of the emperor paid a visit to Kamigamo shrine, they entered Hosodono right away. Today, wedding ceremony is held there.
In front of Hosodono, there are 2 sand mountains. They stands for “Koyoma” the Deity of Kamigamo shrine descended to. This is the origin of “Mori-shio”. Mori-shio is a small mountain of salt believed to take anything evil away.
Romon (National Treasure) 楼門
Kataoka-sya a.k.a. Kayayama miko jinjya
At Kataoka-sya Tamayoribime is enshrined. It is the most imoportant sub-shrine in Kamigamo shrine because Tamayoribime is a mother the Deity of Kamigamo shrine.
The horse bows to Kataoka-sya before go to the main hall.
The construntion of the bell of Kataoka-sya is based on a bell Shinto priestess uses.
Murasaki Shikibu, the author of The Tale of Genjivisited there frequently.
Kataoka-basi and Tama-basi 片岡橋と玉橋
A roofed-bridge in front of Kataoka-sya.
Tama-basi is closed usually. In some occasion, priest can cross the bridge.
Hashidono a.k.a. Maidono (National Treasure) 橋殿/舞殿
We put “Hitogata” on the stream from Hashidono on “Nagoshi no harae” ritual. In the ritual, Hitogata brings anything evil away.
Gakunoya (National Treasure) 楽屋
When the Shinto and the Buddhism was fused, Gakunoya was a building for Buddhist monks.
Tsuchinoya (National Treasure) 土屋
In Tsuchinoya, priests purify themselves in a stream goes along it or hold ritual.
In Kamo-sai (the official name of Aoi matsuri festival), Chokushi, the messenger of the emperor reads out “Goseimon (The message of the emperor) and a priest answers it. It is so sacred place that I cannot take picture. (Sorry, as common Japanese person, I think it is rude to take a picture of sacred place.)
In the parade of Aoi matsuri, the man in black garment plays a role of the messenger of the emperor and the man in red also plays a role of a carrier of the messege of the emperor.
Syo kei en 渉渓園
Syo kei en is a garden made for “Kyokusui-en”.
At the 2nd Sunday of April, “Kamo kyokusui no en” was held and we can see Saiho-dai of the last year.
There is a stream in Syo kei en. Composers on “Waka”, Japanese tradional poem sit along the stream. On the stream, a wooden bird brings a dish of Sake on its back.
They compose poem before the bird shows itself up in front of them.
I said “compose” poem called Waka and it may sounds strange. If you think so, see the video above. You can see what I mean. Waka sounds like music.
Negai ishi 願い石
There is a rock in the Sho kei en. In the Sho kei en, there used to be a Jingiji-temple and a small pond. The rock was found at the bottom of the pond. It stands for Yin-yang.
Mutsumi no ki 睦の木
These three trees has only one root. It stands for a family.
Kamo yamaguchi shrine 賀茂山口神社
We pray there after touching the Negai ishi.
In the days of old, people dedicated a horse called “Shinme” to shrine. These days, we seldom see Shinme horse at shrine. Kamigamo shrine keeps a Shinme named “Kohyama-go” (His real name is Médaillon). We meet him at week-ends or on special occasion.
We can have “Shinme” Omikuji-fortune telling.
Feed him with carrot, shall we?
The fusion of the Shinto and the Buddhism 神仏習合
I said there was a temple in Sho kei en. Why there was a Buddhist temple in a Shito shine?
As I tell you in the article on Gion matsuri festival, the shinto and the Buddhism were fused and co-existed. In the circumstance, Shinto shrine has Buddhist temple which saves it, and vice versa. Buddhist temple which saves Shinto shrine is “Jingu-ji”. On the other hand, Shito shrine which saves Buddhist temple is called “Chinsyu-sya”.
For example, Kiyomizu-dera has a Chinsyu-sya called Jisyu shrine.
In Kamigamo shrine, kataoka-sya had a Jinguji-temple that has no particular name.
Amulets of Kamigamo-shrine お守りなど
You can have them at “Ofuda and Omamori Jyuyosyo「お札・お守り授与所」” located behind Hosodono.
Goshin ya 御神矢
These arrows keep you away any thing evil.
Omikuji-fortune telling おみくじ
Horse and crow omikuji are available.
Annual events of Kamigamo shrine 行事
Hakuba-sohran shinji 白馬奏覧神事
It is based on a rite held in the imperial court. It is believed that at the beggining of the year, white horse gets rid of anything evil and brings us goog fortune. See 白馬奏覧神事2018 (Sorry, Japanese language only!)
Kigen sai 紀元祭
Japanese people cerebrate the foundation of their country. If you interested in it, pls read this article.
Cherry blossom 桜
In Spring time, we admire cherry blossoms.
Kamio kyokusui no en 賀茂曲水宴
Kamo kurabe uma 賀茂競馬
A dedication held prior to Aoi matsuri fesitival.
Aoi matsuri festival 葵祭
Aoi matsuri is the most important ritual in Kamigamo shrine. It was one of the most important festival held under the order of the imperial court and its history dates back to the Heian period. See the most precise imformatin on it.
Kamo kangetsu sai 賀茂観月祭
We admire the full moon in September.
Kamigamo shrine is one of the most underrated place to enjoy autumn leaves in Kyoto.
Access to Kamigamo shrine
From JR Kyoto station
Take subway Karasuma line and get off at Kitaoji station. From Kitaoji bus terminal adjacent to Kitaoji station, take the bus no. 37 and get off at Kamigamo misonobashi bas stop.