In the area where the Kamo-gawa river and the Takano-gawa river join, Tadasu-no-Mori wood spreads south to north. As you walk on a path in the forest toward the north, you will see a cinnabar red Torii gateway and, beyond it, two-storied gate with the same color. Twin main halls of the Shinto shrine stand farther inside but Hei-den building blocks your view and they are barely visible. The identical main halls are national treasures and stand side by side. The right hall, or the East Shrine is dedicated to Tamayori-hime, and on the left is the West Shrine that is dedicated her father, Kamo-Taketsunumi-no-Mikoto.
In addition to these halls, the shrine has 55 buildings that are important cultural assets.
The formal name of this shrine is Kamomioya-jinja which literally means the shrine for ancestors of Kamo clan. The historic shrine is commonly known as Shimogamo-jinja that means Lower Kamo Shrine. Together with Kamigamo-jinja, or Upper Kamo Shrine, Shimogamo-jinja composes Kamo-jinja. The two shrines are members of seventeen World Cultural Heritage sites in Kyoto. Aoi-matsuri, or Mallow (Hollyhock) festival is the festival of Kamo shrine.
Legend of Shimogamo-jinja
One day, a daughter of Kamo-Taketsunumi-no-Mikoto, Tamayori-hime was playing beside a stream called Semi-no-ogawa and found a red arrow flowing toward her. The princess picked it up and brought it back to her house and put it on her bedside. Then she became pregnant and gave birth to a boy. When the boy grew up, his grandfather, Kamo-Taketsunumi-no-Mikoto, held a feast for seven days and seven nights. He gave his grandson a cup of Sake, or Japanese wine, and told him to let the one whom he thought his father drink the Sake. The son raised the cup and performed worship toward the heaven then broke through the roof and climbed to the heaven.
Then, the grandfather named him Kamo-no-Wakeikazuchi-no-Kami that means Kamo's Young God of Thunder. The red arrow was said to be Ho-no-Ikazuchi-no-Kami, or the god of fire and thunder.
The shrine that is dedicated to Kamo-Wakeikazuchi-no-Kami is Kamo-Wakeikazuchi-Jinja which is commonly known as Kamigamo-jinja , or upper Kamo Shrine. The shrine for the mother and the grandfather of Kamo-Wakeikazuchi-no-Kami is Shimogamo-jinja.
How to get to Shimogamo-jinja
10 minutes of walk from Keihan Railway Line Demachiyanagi station.
About 30 minutes from Kyoto Station to Shimogamo-jinja Mae Bus Stop on Kyoto City Bus No. 4 or No. 205.
Hours and Admission
Admission is free.
Click on photos for full images.