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Shimogamo Shrine

Name 下鴨神社(賀茂御祖神社) / Shimogamo Shrine
Adress Shimogamo Izumigawacho59, Sakyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 606-0807
Hours Open 6:30~17:00
Admission Adult   500 yen
University  500 yen
High school  500 yen
Junior high school  500 yen
Elementary school  250 yen

Shimogamo Shrine (下鴨神社 Shimogamo-jinja) in Japanese, is the common name of an important Shinto sanctuary in the Shimogamo district of Kyoto city’s Sakyō ward. Its formal name is Kamo-mioya-jinja (賀茂御祖神社). It is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan and is one of the seventeen Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which have been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The term Kamo-jinja in Japanese is a general reference to Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine, the traditionally linked Kamo shrines of Kyoto; Shimogamo is the older of the pair, being believed to be 100 years older than Kamigamo, and dating to the 6th century, centuries before Kyoto became the capital of Japan (794, see Heian-kyō). The Kamo-jinja serve the function of protecting Kyoto from malign influences.

The jinja name identifies the Kamo family of kami or deities who are venerated. The name also refers to the ambit of shrine’s nearby woods, which are vestiges of the primeval forest of Tadasu no Mori. In addition, the shrine name references the area’s early inhabitants, the Kamo clan, many of whom continue to live near the shrine their ancestors traditionally served.

Shimogamo Shrine is dedicated to the veneration of Tamayori-hime (玉依姫; lit., the spirit-inviting maiden) and her father, Kamo Taketsunomi (賀茂建角身). Tamayori-hime is the mother of Kamo Wakeikazuchi (賀茂別雷; the thunder-divider of Kamo), who was sired by Honoikazuchi-no-mikoto (火雷神; the God of Fire and Thunder). Kamigamo Shrine, the other of the two Kamo shrines of Kyoto, is dedicated to Kamo Wakeikazuchi. These kami are variously associated with thunder.

The shrine became the object of Imperial patronage during the early Heian period. Shimogamo, along with the Kamigamo Shrine, was designated as one of two chief Shinto shrines (ichinomiya) for the former Yamashiro province. In 965, Emperor Murakami ordered that Imperial messengers were sent to report important events to Japan’s guardian kami, including Kamo-Tamayori-hime and Kamo-Taketsune. The writer of Houjouki, Kamo no Choumei (鴨長明), was the second son of one of the head priests of the shrine, Kamo no Nagatsugu (鴨長継). From 1871 through 1946, Shimogamo was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha (官幣大社), meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines.


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