One of Japan’s more intriguing historic figures is the famous spiritualist, or Onmyo-ji, Abe no Seimei. In addition to the unusual nature of his work, his life was also quite mysterious. This mystery has in turn led to a constant recurring fascination with him and his life ranging from TV series, movies and more. Of course, all this popularity makes his own shrine a popular spot. Though forgotten for centuries Kyoto’s Seimei Shrine is one of the most popular shrines in Kyoto.
Roughly 1,000 years ago Abe no Seimei suddenly appeared and became instantly famous. His sudden appearance, however, left many rumors and suspicions about his origins. If you like to hear the legends and stories of the life of Abe no Semei, see our post on Abe no Seimei!
The entrance of Seimei Shrine is on Horikawa Street and is quite a large gate, so you won’t miss it. Despite the large entrance, the shrine grounds are not so big.
Once you pass through the torii, you will see a small bridge and a curious little statue next to it.
This small bridge is a small version Ichijo-modoribashi Bridge, an ancient bridge just across the street. Next to the bridge is a statue one Seimei’s supernatural spirit helpers, a shikigami [式神]. Shikigami are small spirits that Abe no Seimei employed to do any number of things, from delivering messages, making tea, doing laundry etc…According to folklore, he hid his invisible shikigami under Ichijo-modoribashi Bridge.
The location of Seimei Shrine was once the actual home of Abe no Seimei himself. After Seimei passed away in 1007, Emperor Ichijo created the shrine to honor his great feats as a spiritualist. Unfortunately, everyone forgot about the shrine and was ignored until 1928.