While many people visit Daitoku-ji, one of the biggest temples in Kyoto, not so many people know there is a quaint little shrine in north of it, Imamiya Shrine [今宮神社]. Coupled with the very locally famous aburi mochi, Imamiya Shrine is definitely a shrine you should drop by if you have a chance.
The origins of Imamiya Shrine dates back to the Heian Period when the shrine was built to ward off plague from Kyoto.
Imamiya Shrine is not so big. Upon entering you will see the honden which enshrines Onamuchi (aka Okunushi) and his son, Kotoshironushi, and his wife Kushinada.
Right next to the hoden is the shrine enshrining the gods that protect against plague. I guess maybe this used to be the main shrine…
A particularly interesting thing about this shrine is that it is popular for women.
Born near the shrine to a vegetable shop Keisho-in became concubine of 3rd Shogun of Edo government. Eventually she also gave birth to the 5th shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. She never forgot her home, however, and donated a large fortune to revive the shrine. So, many women who wish to be successful like Keisho-in visits this shrine to pray for their future.
Points of Interest
While you are at Imamiya Shrine, you must try the aburi mochi. The treat also dates back to the Heian Period. According to local legend, when Emperor Ichijo became sick someone gifted him this mochi and it helped to restore his health.
Just outside of the former east you will see two stores that sell aburi mochi: Kazariya on right and Ichiwa on left. Kazariya is 400 years old and Ichiwa is about a thousand years.
Aburi mochi is basically grilled mochi covered in a sweet white miso paste. This sauce is particularly nice with mochi. The each piece of mochi is quite small but don’t worry, they give you 15 sticks for 300 yen!
Information: Imamiya Shrine
Murasakino Imamiya-cho 21, Kita Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
Imamiya Shrine is located just north of Daitoku-ji Temple. There are various ways to get Daitoku-ji, since it is one of the most famous temple in Kyoto. If you want to go by train, the closest station is Kitaoji Station off the subway Karasuma Line, but it may take 20 minutes or so to get there.