Arashiyama, Nonomiya-jinja — June 21, 2011 at 4:54 PM

Arashiyama’s famous bamboo forest and the Nonomiya Shrine!


Nonomiya Shrine, or the Shrine in the Country, is a Shinto shrine in the Arashiyama district on the west side of the city of Kyoto in Kyoto prefecture, Japan. The specific site of the shrine changed somewhat over time, as the location of the shrine was fixed anew by divination when a new imperial priestess was to undergo purification before traveling to take up her duties at Ise Shrine.
Nonomiya shrine is surrounded with a bamboo grove, and it is well known that the Kuroki No Torii (black torii gate) and a brushwood fence which are both described in The Tale of Genji can be found there.
This small shrine is famous for the kami (god) of relationships and learning, so many women seeking a good match and many students aiming to pass exams visit here.
When you go through the torii, you will find a stone to the left called Kame No Ishi. It is said that your wish will come true within a year if you touch and stroke the stone while praying.
When you go to the right, you will find the moss garden. At the bottom of the shrine, there is a building for seeking the grace of being blessed with a child and an easy birth.
Saigu procession
In the Heian period, successive imperial princesses stayed in the Nonomiya Shrine for a year or more to purify themselves before becoming representatives of the imperial family at the Ise Shrine in Mie prefecture. Contemporary annual processions recreate a scene from a picture scroll of the imperial court during the Heian period, starting from the shrine and continuing as far as the Togetsu-kyo Bridge, Arashiyama.
In literature
Nonomiya Shrine appears in the tenth chapter of the Tale of Genji.
There are many plays and other works which are based on the narrative of Genji. In the Noh play, The Shrine in the Fields by Zeami, a scene features a priest praying when a girl enters; and, upon questioning, she tells the story of how, when Lady Rokujo was staying at Nonomiya with her daughter who had been appointed as the Ise virgin, Genji came to her.

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