On the boarder of Osaka Prefecture and Kyoto is Minase Jingu. This relatively small shrine houses the remains of Emperor Go-toba, an ambitious and tragic emperor, whose failed war lead to the creation of the Kamakura Government. Former site of his personal villa, Minase Jingu is the biggest shrine to this fallen emperor on Japan’s mainland.
History of Minase Jingu
During his life, Emperor Gotoba often frequented his favorite villa Minase Rikyuu, which was just past the southernmost point of Kyoto. In 1240, a year after Gotoba’s death, the Minase clan converted the villa into a temple to enshrine Go-toba’s memory. After the Meiji Period, the temple became Minase Jingu Shrine [水無瀬神宮].
In addition to Gotoba being enshrined in Minase Jingu, his two sons who had also been sentenced to exile, Jyuntoku and Tsuchimikado, are enshrined along with their father. Since this shrine has a strong connection to Emperor Gotoba, there is an original painting of Gotoba along with Gotoba’s handwritten will inside the shrine. Both of these items are classified as national treasures.
Minase Jingu is within a stone’s throw of the border of Osaka and Kyoto, located in the town of Shimamoto. To get there, take the Hankyu Kyoto Line and get off at Minase Sta. The shrine is 950 meters northeast of Minase Sta. If you want to use the JR lines, then take the JR Kyoto Line and get off at Shimamoto Sta., walk to the Hankyu Station, then follow these same instructions.
On the left upper side of the gate is the handprint of the legendary thief Ishikawa Goemon[石川五右衛門]. Allegedly, he came to Minase to steal sword but he failed. As Goemon fled, he left a bloodied hand print on the gate.
The haiden is from the Showa Period, so it is actually fairly new. However, the guest house located next to the haiden, dates back to the Azuchi Momoyama Period.
Minase’s Artesian Water
As soon as you go enter the shrine, you will notice a lot of people lining up with large containers. Minase Jingu is actually famous for its well water, which ranks among the best 100 natural water spots in Japan. You can get water for free but there is a limit of 20 liters per a day per person. Also, be sure to bring your own containers or pet bottles.
From the looks of it, I think more people come to get water, than to actually visit the shrine itself…