A ways down Kamo Street from Kamigamo Shine, is its sister shrine, Shimogamo Shrine. Just like Kamigamo Shrine, Shimogamo Shrine is also a world heritage site, is one of very popular among tourist and Kyoto natives alike.
The History of Shimogamo Shrine
Formally known as Kamomioya Shrine, it is not entirely clear when Shimogamo Shrine was first built, but we know for a fact it existed as early as 677. Legends say the main deities date back to the reign of Emperor Jimmu. In any case, this shrine did exist before the capital moved from Nara to Kyoto and earn the position as one of the guardian shrines of the capital after it moved.
Shimogamo Shrine’s main deity are Kamotaketsunumi no Mikoto [加茂建角身命] and his daughter Princess Tamayori, the mother of Kamowake Ikazuchi no Mikoto, the deity of Kamigamo Shrine. Though those gods do not appear in the Kojiki, myth says that Kamotaketsunumi no Mikoto transformed into the three legged raven, Yatagarasu, and safely guided Emperor Jimmu on his journey from Kumano to Nara.
For more information for these three gods, see our post on Kamigamo Shrine, and click here for the first in our series on Japanese Mythology.
Shimogamo Shrine is located at the point where Kamo River and Takano River merge. From the entrance, the path to the main shrine building, or sando, runs through Tadasu no Mori, passing in front of the famous Kawai Shrine. Tadasu no Mori, mentioned in many Japanese classics, is believed to be a sacred forest, and there are many trees with hundred years old.
After a few minutes of walking through the forest, you will see the main shrine building.
Shimogamo Shrine is not very big. In the inner shrine grounds, there are many buildings that usually are used only for aoi matsuri, hollyhock festival, one of the most famous festivals in Kyoto.
In the shrine grounds is Mitarashi Ike, a famous pond said to rid you of disease if you soak your feet in its waters.
Once you enter the middle gate, you are not allowed to take pictures… You may not see the main building, honden, from the prayer hall. If you’d like to see the honden, there is a special tour that takes you close to Honden, so if you are interested in, you should join the tour!
59 Shimogamo Izumigawacho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
Shimogamo Shrine is quite easy to access. From Keihan Demachiyanagi Station, walk across the Takano River, and head north. It will only takes you about 5 minutes or so from the station. Of course, there are plenty of bus services from Kyoto or Kawaramachi Station, just take the #4 or the #205.
Main shrine grounds: Free
Inner shrine grounds tour: 500 yen