Updated: June 10, 2019
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Must-Visit Shrines of Japan: 2,000 Year-Old Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto

Kyoto City

Shimogamo Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto, dating back more than 2,000 years. The shrine has a forest, beautiful buildings, and special 'mizu mikuchi,' fortunes that only appear when you dip them in water. This is a special place in Kyoto that is often overlooked by tourists!

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Shimogamo Shrine: rich history and natural beauty

Shimogamo Jinja is an ancient Shinto shrine located in the northern part of Kyoto, Japan. The official name for the shrine is Kamomioya Jinja, but most people refer to it as Shimogamo (下鴨) Jinja because it is located downstream on the Kamo river (鴨川). The shrine is ancient (older then the city of Kyoto), and is thought to date back to 90 BC.
Shimogamo Shrine is devoted to two gods; Kamotaketsunumi No Mikoto, thought of as the guardian deity of Kyoto, and his daughter, Tamayorihime No Mikoto. People pray to these gods for peace, blessings of marriage and childbirth, and safety, among other things.

Special things to do at Shimogamo Jinja

Get a magic, water fortune

The words appearing as the fortune sits in the water
Most shrines have fortunes called 'omikuji,' but here, you can get a special, 'mizu mikuji' (water fortune) that only appears when you soak it with water. It's really cool to watch the fortune appear in front of your eyes!

Become more beautiful at Kawai Jinja

Inside the grounds of Shimogamo Shrine is a secondary shrine called Kawai Jinja. There, you can draw your face on a paddle and write a wish to become more beautiful. This practice is said to not only make you more beautiful on the outside, but also on the inside! Who knows if it works, but it can't hurt to try!

Walk in an ancient forest

'Tadasu No Mori' is a forest within the grounds of Shimogamo Shrine. It is a beautiful and peaceful place to take a stroll while refreshing the soul. Luckily, Shimogamo shrine is a little bit off the beaten path known by tourists, so it is possible to escape and find a bit of quiet here, especially in the woods.

See a festival or ritual

Aoi Matsuri
Shimogamo Shrine has a full schedule of festivals and rituals that take place throughout the year. There is at least one special event every month, but most months have many events! The most famous of all of the festivals hosted by the Shrine is the Aoi Matsuri, which happens every year in May. The main event is a procession of people wearing traditional clothing that happens on the 15th of May. Check out the link below for more information on the Aoi Matsuri:


Shimogamo Shrine is located in the northern part of Kyoto city, and is most easily accessed by bus. If going from Kyoto Station, take bus number 4 or 205, and get off at Shimogamo Jinja-mae. Otherwise, the shrine is a 12 minute walk from Hankyu Railway's Demachiyanagi Station.

Hours: 6:30 ~ 17:00
Entry: Free
I live in west Tokyo and spend most of my time thinking about food or going bouldering.

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