A short walk from Demachijanagi Station on the Keihan Line, over the Takano River and nestled inbetween the Kamo and Takano rivers you'll find one of Japan's oldest shrine, Shimogamo Jinja.
Pictured right, the entrance to Shimogamo Jinja starts with a pathway through the ancient forest Tadasu no Mori (Forest of Truth/Justice).
A Historic Monument of Kyoto and an UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to the 6th century, before Kyoto was even founded as a capital city in 794. Shimo, meaning lower, as the jinja is connected to another famous shrine Kyoto, Kamigamo Jinja further to the north west. The shrine is dedicated to Kamotaketsunomi-no-mikoto, an ancestort of the Kamo clan, whom is said to have descended to earth at Mt. Mikage, east of Kyoto. In Shinto religion Kamotaketsunomi-no-mikoto metamorphosed into the three-legged deity of the sun, Yatagarasu. He is then reputed to have led the legendary first emperor of Japan, Jimmu, throughout the Kyoto countryside and finally settling at the future site of the Shimogamo shrine.
Pictured below, the main precincts of the shrine from inside. The red and white two tiered Romon Gate, and in the right of the image the Maidono Hall (hall/stage for music and dance).
Kamotaketsunomi-no-mikoto's daughter, Tamayorihime-no-mikoto, in the continuing story of Shimogamo, was going about her her ritual duties on the shrine grounds when she saw an arrow floating downstream. She picked up the arrow and then watched as it turned into a beautiful god. Amazed and mesmorized by this experience and the god produced from the arrow she married the god and they had a child. That child would be the Thunder God Wakeikazuchi, dedicated at Kamigamo Jinja.
Pictured above, the Mitarashi Bridge, the stream leads to the Mitarashi Shrine within the Shimogamo grounds.
Discovered archeology at the site of Shimogamo dates back to the Yayoi Period (around the 4th century BC) finding fragments of plate sand arrows inthe Tadusu no Mori area south of the shrine buildings.
Pictured above, the Nara no Ogawa stream in Tadasu no Mori before entering the main part of the shrine area.
Today the shrine is one of the most popular in Japan, is a must see for any visitors to Kyoto and also has connections to the roots of Rugby in Japan. One of the main festivals associated with Shimogamo is the Aoi Matsuri in May, and the shrine even gets a few mentions in the classic literature Tale of Genji.
Access - The nearest station to Shimogamo Jinja is the Keihan Demachiyanagi Station. The shrine can be very busy so please be aware of covid precautions and adhere to any restrictions or recommendations.
HIDDEN PATHS visited Shimogamo on this occasion early in the morning to avoid crowds.