A solemn holy ground evoking a long history
The World Heritage site of Shimogamo Shrine (Kamo-mioya Shrine) is located in the triangular zone bracketed by Kyoto’s Kamo and Takano Rivers. With belief in the God of Guidance and the God of Victory since ancient times, it is known as a shrine to celebrate the beginning of things. Two east and west main shrines have been built. On the left is the shrine dedicated to the god Kametaketsunomi-no-mikoto who opened a mountain castle in ancient Kyoto, and on the right is the shrine dedicated to his daughter, Tamayorihime-no-mikoto. The buildings, constructed in the Nagare-zukuri style, have been designated as National Treasures. The shrine was reconstructed in 1863, but its majesty as a holy ground with a solemn atmosphere is still felt.
The gods of marriage, easy childbirth and child-rearing
As well, there are many various gods enshrined within the grounds. The God of Marriage is enshrined in the Aioi-sha Shrine next to the tower gates (roumon) of Shimogamo Shrine. Of note are the 2 trees that join into one partway (the Renri-no-Sakaki tree) as a sacred tree. There is a strange legend about the power of the God of Marriage that binds it together. If the tree dies within the grounds, then another such tree will be found. This bound sacred tree is one of Kyoto’s Seven Myths. Then there is Kawai Shrine which is popular with women. Enshrined there is Tamayorihime, the guardian spirit of women. She was believed as a goddess for female beauty from olden times and was also said to the goddess for easy childbirth, child-rearing, marriage, studying and long life. The votive picture, or ema, of Kawai Shrine is the Mirror Ema, and is in the shape of a traditional Japanese mirror. It is a unique ema in that it isn’t seen very much at the other shrines. The surface of the ema with a picture of a face is supposed to represent that of the holder’s face, and after applying painting the face with the woman’s own makeup, a prayer is said. Even if she doesn’t have any cosmetics, crayons are available. A spreading primeval forest from ancient times, Tadasu-no-Mori, surrounds Shimogamo Shrine, and has become a place of relaxation for the citizens. After praying to the gods, the negative ions suffusing the forest makes it a recommended place to refresh yourself.