On the day that we went to Kamigamo shrine there happened to be the added bonus of a bustling flea market which comes every Sunday. This added extra ambiance to our visit, as there were lots of people.
Being still January, it was cold, and there was some snow on the roofs of the temples. Kamigamo is situated in the north of Kyoto and surrounded by a spacious park. When you enter through the main torii (gate), there is a long, straight walk-way – a Sando – to the main part of the shrine. On your right there will be a beautiful building, (the Geheiden) and on your left, just before the torii to the main shrine, you will see a stable with a horse where parents often take their children. You are able to buy treats and pose with the horse and traditionally-clad stable master for a picture.
Before you enter the second torii to the main temple, make sure to wash your hands for purification in the Chozuya, or Temizuya. Climbing the steps, you will come to a wide, open space where the main temple is. Wandering around, you will find many beautiful buildings and shrines, but to the right of the temple there is a small path; on the left of this path there will be a traditional Japanese bridge arched over a small, trickling stream which runs down from the mountain. Along the path there are shrines of various sizes and leads out to a wide park; there is also a nice mountain path which one can climb to find some more shrines. The park, where the flea market of two-hundred stalls of anything one could want was located, had many shady trees which provided a scenic view.
We were there on a Sunday and we just happened to witness a Shinto wedding. The groom and bride were dressed in traditional dress and were on their way to the ceremony hall, accompanied by the priest and followed by the relatives.
Kamigamo is a World Heritage site and well worth your visit, there are many photo opportunities and it is a quiet place, away from the noise of the city center.
Kamigamo Shrine is an important Shinto sanctuary on the banks of the Kamo River in northeast Kyoto, first founded in 678. Its formal name is the Kamo-wakeikazuchi Shrine.
It is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan and is one of the seventeen Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which have been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The term Kamo-jinja in Japanese is a general reference to Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine, the traditionally linked Kamo shrines of Kyoto. The Kamo-jinja serves the function of protecting Kyoto from malign influences.
The jinja name identifies the Kamo family of kami or deities who are venerated. The name also refers to the ambit of shrines’ nearby woods, which are vestiges of the primeval forest of Tadasu no Mori. In addition, the shrine name references the area’s early inhabitants, the Kamo clan, many of whom continue to live near the shrine their ancestors traditionally served.
Kamigamo Shrine is dedicated to the veneration of Kamo Wake-ikazuchi, the kami (god) of thunder.
The shrine became the object of Imperial patronage during the early Heian period.
Records from the reign of Emperor Heizei (806-809) mention that Kamo-mioya jinja was amongst a select number of establishments which had been granted a divine seal for use on documents. The seal would have been enshrined in its own unique mikoshi (Oshite jinja). This granting of a special seal and the practices associated with its use and preservation conformed to a pattern established by Emperor Konin (770-781) in 778 (Hōki 9).
In 965, Emperor Murakami ordered that Imperial messengers were sent to report important events to Japan’s guardian kami, including Kamo Wake-ikazuchi.
From 1871 through 1946, the Kamigamo Shrine was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha , meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines.
Some Imperial Visiting dates are…
* 794 (Enryaku 13): Emperor Kammu came as part of a grand progress.
* 942 (Tengyō 5, 29th day of the 4th month): Emperor Suzaku visited to offer thanks for restoration of peace.
* 979 (Tengen 2, 10th day of the 10th month): Emperor En’yū decided that an Imperial visit Hachiman at Iwashimizu Shrine should be paired with a visit to Kamo.
* 1711 (Hōei 8): Emperor Nakamikado took refuge in the Hosodono when the palace had become uninhabitable.
For the Kamigamo official site click here!
Wikipedia link for Kamigamo click here!