First founded in 678, the Kamigamo Shrine had been originally named as the Kamo-wakeikazuchi Shrine. Dedicated to the veneration of the kami, or the deity of thunder, Kamo Wake-ikazuchi, the name of the shrine also pays tribute to the Kamo clan who traditionally served the shrine and continue to do so whilst many live nearby. A site of great importance, the Kamogamo shrine had once been the object of imperial patronage during the early Heian Period. The importance of this attraction was such that the shrine had not only been established as one of two chief Shinto shrines for the former Yamashiro province, it has also been amongst the very select establishments which had been granted a divine seal on all documents. Also declared as one of the main government supported shrines, the Kamigamo Shrine was officially designated as a Kanpei-taisha which served to further enhance its importance in the people’s eyes.
The Kamigamo Shrine is nevertheless breathtaking. At the southern end of a huge lawn-covered entrance stands the large torii gate that allows entrance into the site. Men and women are admitted into the area separately, in two queues and dangerous numbers for men and women are indicated in large red lettering; ages of which men and women come from all over the country to ask for blessings and assistance during these difficult times.
Crossing onto the inner courtyard, one would notice two tall cone-shaped white sand piles on the ground. This represents the hill behind the main hall of the shrine where God is said to have descended from heaven. The buildings of the shrine are all in lovely proportion creating an elegant sight. As a result of the picturesque beauty of the place, the Kamigamo Shrine is a popular venue for weddings and is the ideal place to go if you are intent on witnessing traditional Japanese weddings.
Reminiscent of the olden days when Japanese emperors rode white horses, a white horse is tethered in a little hut within the temple. When visitors place some money on the silver tray in front of the horse, they are handed a plate of sliced carrots which they are allowed to feed the horse which stands as a mascot for the God of the shrine. The temple is also famous for its Aoi Matsuri festival which falls on the 15th of May. The temple sees a number of horse related events such as races, horse riding competitions, etc. on this day and the days leading up to it which attracts thousands of devotees and horse riding enthusiasts to the temple grounds.
Looking for comfortable Kyoto apartments to stay in while exploring the region? Citadines Karasuma-Gojo Kyoto offers the ideal Kyoto serviced apartments that would definitely serve the purpose. There are many other places that one can explore while taking in the full glory of the Kamigamo Shrine. While doing so, bask in the generosity of the local people. Their incredible warmth will definitely make an impression on you, making you want to come back for more.
Jayani Senanayake is a writer who dabbles in travel and all things exotic. Under the pseudonym of Caliope Sage, she writes of the allures that must simply be discovered.