Kyoto : The Kamo Shrines


30th May 2011. Written by Xin Li.
Kyoto, Japan
Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji, Ryoanji...what are some of the similarities between them besides being well-known landmarks of Kyoto?

Kamigamo-jinja 上賀茂神社 - Ro-mon

These are recognized UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Such a site is recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to be of outstanding universal value to the human civilization.

Kamigamo-jinja 上賀茂神社

The impact of such a status and its selection is debatable but that is a matter for the discussion rooms or forums for now. Another UNESCO site of Kyoto are the Kamo shrines located in the northern part of Kyoto. These shrines aren’t as famous as the Nijo Castle or the Kinkakuji, as a result, they were often overlooked in a usual itinerary to Kyoto, but it also meant that they tend to be less crowded (unless there is a festival going on).

Kamigamo-jinja 上賀茂神社

The Kamigamo-jinja Shrine attracted worshippers from the Imperial Court as a guardian shrine since its establishment after the founding of Heian-kyo (former name for Kyoto). The Aoi Matsuri also takes place here (as well as the Shimogamo-jinja and Imperial Palace) on the 15th of May every year.

Kamigamo-jinja 上賀茂神社 - Second Torii

Looking towards the Tsuchinoya from the Hosodono, this is where people engaged in rituals and ceremonies to purify themselves before taking part in the activities.

Kamigamo-jinja 上賀茂神社 - Tuchinoya from Hosodono

The building is an example of Heian architecture and it was known to be the family shrine of the powerful Kamo clan of Yamashiro.

Kamigamo-jinja 上賀茂神社 - Hosodono and Tatezuna

Here two tatezuna (sand delta cones) in front of the hosodono building contribute to an atmosphere of mystical and ancient purity.

Kamigamo-jinja 上賀茂神社 - Hashidono

The Chu-mon gate (below) is only open during new year.

Kamigamo-jinja 上賀茂神社 - Chu-mon Gate

I had the opportunity to witness a Japanese couple in traditional garb having their wedding shots taken here.

Kamigamo-jinja 上賀茂神社

Kamigamo-jinja 上賀茂神社

A stream flows through the precincts and the shrine was surrounded by mountains, to the north is Ko-yama.

Kamigamo-jinja 上賀茂神社 - Mt.Kataoka

A pathway leads to Mt.Kataoka where you can find some tiny shrines.

Kamigamo-jinja 上賀茂神社 - Mt. Kataoka

Shimogamo-jinja 下鴨神社 -Buden

The Shimogamo Jinja, another of the Kamo Shrines, is one of the oldest shrines of Kyoto. It is situated in the site of ancient Tadasu-no-Mori forest which the ancient Yamashrio Plain remains.

Shimogamo-jinja 下鴨神社 - Ro-mon

The vermillion colored structure seen above is characteristic of Heian architecture. The Buden Hall is where Shinto rituals and traditional Japanese music performances are held.

Shimogamo-jinja 下鴨神社 - Buden

The Kamigamo-jinja 上賀茂神社 is accessible via buses (Kamigamo Jinja-mae Bus Stop) :
4 – Departs from Kyoto Station and stops at Shimogamo-jinja and Shijo Kawaramachi as well.
46 – Can be boarded from Shijo-Kawaramachi and Gion.

Kamo River on the Bus

The Shimogamo-jinja 下鴨神社 is accessible via a short walk from the Demachiyanagi Subway Station. It has a bus stop near its entrance as well (Shimogamo-jinja mae Bus Stop). You can take these buses to Shimogamo-jinja:
4 – Leaves Kyoto Station and stops at Shijo-Kawaramachi and ends at the Kamigamo-jinja.
205 – Departs from Kyoto Station, this bus stops at Shijo-Kawaramachi as well but it heads towards the Kitaoji Bus Terminal and also stops at Kinkakuji-michi (walking distance to Kinkakuji, take note the bus stop Kinkakuji-mae is nearer to the famed Golden Pavilion but not covered by this bus) and near Nishi Honganji. The bus is a loop.


  1. the smell of the pizza sitting in front of me and viewing Japan pictures makes me crave Ramen



the moose & snowman

the soft toy. the soft toy.

makan corner

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