Kamigamo Jinja English Website

English Web Page

TOWER-GATE.[Go to the map]

The tower-gate(ro-mon))

The tower-gate(ro-mon) and the corridors to right and left are in front of theMain Shrine (Honden) and are painted red. Below the bridge flows the Omonoi stream.


Kamo-wake-ikazuchi-Jinja in the Kita Ward of Kyoto is the oldest Shinto shrine in the ancient city. Since prehistoric times Kamigamo-jinja has preserved and transmitted the legends relating to the birth of the shrine deity, Wakeikazuchi.
Ancient rituals which transmit faith in the divine mountan, Kamo Sai also known as Aoi Matsuri which started during the reign of Emperor Kinmei in 544, and the shrine buildings retaining the style of the early Heian Period, all convey the history of the province of Yamashiro (southern Kyoto Prefecture).

Most of the shrine complex (totaling 690,000m2) has been designated as Preservation Area of Historic Landscape by the municipal government and as a Historic Site by the national government. The area contains many large trees such as ichii oaks, suda chinquappins and weeping cherry trees.
Here, nature and cultural properties coexist in harmony. On December 17, 1994, Kamigamo-jinja was officially registered as a World Cultural Heritages Site in recognition of its importance as a monument of ancient Kyoto.

Kyoto, The capital of Japan, called Heiankyo, was established in 794. Kamo-wake-ikazuchi-Jinja, Kamo Mioyajinja, Toji Temple, Kiyomizu Temple and Enryakuji Temple first appeared in the new capital during this time.
Kyoto is known worldwide as a treasure house of cultural properties, including National Treasures, Special Historical Sites and Special Places of Scenic Beauty which represent each period of the city's 1200-year history from its establishment at the beginning of the Heian Period. Infact, Kyoto possesses the largest concentration of cultural properties in Japan.

Deity Enshrined

The deity Kamo-wake-ikazuchi-no-kami is enshrined.


The shrine is dedicated to a deity who appeared miraculously when Tama-yori-hime- no-mikoto, the daughter of Kamo-taketsu-numi-no-mikoto of the ruling clan of Kamo, went to the Kamo river to performpurification ceremonies. At first the deity was enshrined on a stone altar atop the peak of Ko-yama.

The mountain was regarded as sacred,and therefore later religious rites were performed on pure grounds at the South-eastern foot of the mountain. This shrine was built asYosai-den in 678 during the reign of the Emperor Tenmu, this became the principal building during the reign or of the Emperor Kanmu in the Heian Period.

Torii[Go to the map]

The gateway standing at the entrance to a shrine is called a torii. It indicates that the area inside the gateway is sacred space.

Sando (approach pathway)[Go to the map]

The pathway from the first torii to the central shrine buildings is allowing visitors time to calm and compose their minds for worship.

Shrine buildings

After passing through the second torii, we come to an area of thick forest that offers a different enchantment with each season. The Hashi-dono spanning a clear flowing stream near the second torii, is where the imperial envoy presents a message from the emperor during the Aoi Matsuri.
On the left here, is the Hoso-dono, which is famous for its cone of sand that is said to have purificatory powers. On the right is the Tsuchi-no-ya building where people engaged in rituals and ceremonies to purify themselves before participating. After crossing Negi-bashi (bridge) and walking through the Ro-mon and then Chu-mon (gate, open only new year), we see the Hon-den (main sanctuary, on the right).

The present building was constructed in 1863 by the Emperor Komei, retaining its classic Heian design. As an excellent example of a nagare-style shrine structure, it has been designated as a National Treasure.
Gon-den is an exact replica of the main shrine building and serves as a kind of reserve or emergency shrine, to house the deity in the event that main shrine building is destroyed or damaged. The other 34 buildings on the shrine grounds, Iast restored in 1628, have all been designated as Important Cultural Propereties.

Branch shrines

Since the virtue of the deity was especially powerful in protecting agriculture, from ancient times the farmers of the entire country have introduced the spirit of the deity into their villages and have vigorously worshiped their local Kamo shrines, which number actually more than 2000.

Main Festivals of the shrine

Kamo-sai (Aoi-matsuri) "Hollyhock Festival" May 15 The Kamo-sai is one of the three biggest imperial festivals in Japan and the most important festival in the shrine. Since aoi (hollyhocks) are offered at the festival, and all the shrine buildings and attendants are decorated with hollyhocks, the event is also known as the Aoi Matsuri.

According to the chronicle Kamo Engi (History of Kamigamo-jinja), the festivals originated at the time of the Emperor Kinmei (539-571), when the country was suffering a spell of disastrous weather. Even today, the Emperor sends a messenger who have worships on his behalf.
The procession of this festival, which is 800 meters long and in which, 500 people participate to start at the palace of Kyoto, is like elegant scroll painting.

Nagoshi-no-harae[Go to the map]


"The Summer Purification Ritual" June 30 In this ritual held for the safety of one's household and life, one passes through a grass ring called "Chi-no-wa" ,and throws human effigies made of paper (hito-gata) into the river both to rid oneself of impurities and restore purity.

This celebrated ritual is mentioned in the Tanka poem called "Nara-no-ogawa",found in a collection of poems .from the Kamakura period (1192-1333) called "Hyaku-nin Isshu". (The cards of one hundred famous poems)

Kurabe-uma-e-Jinji[Go to the map]

"The Ritual of the Racehorses" May 5.

The horse race (in Japan) is said to originate from this shrine. This ritual became popular during the reign of Empror Horikawa in the 11th century and has continued until today. It is designated by the City of Kyoto as an. "Intangible Cultural Property.".

Karasu-zumo "Crow Sumo (wresling celemony)"[Go to the map]

September 9.

In this very unusual ritual, shrine officials imitate the voice of crows and their manner of jumping to the side, then children perfom sumo for the entertainment of the Kami. It has been designated by the city of Kyoto as an "Intangible Cultural Property".

Shrine Map & Traffic Location

Shrine Map

Shrine Map

Traffic Location

Traffic Location


"If you can speak even a little Japanese, any of the shrine's priests will be happy to try and answer your questions.Thank you again for visiting Kamigamo Shrine. We wish you a safe journey, every happiness, and peace.



Special Guide Tour to the World Heritage Site, Kamigamo-jinja Shinto Shrine and Treasures Exhibition in English by a Shinto Priest

Special Guide Tour to the World Heritage Site, Kamigamo-jinja Shinto Shrine and Treasures Exhibition in English by a Shinto Priest Kamigamo-jinja Shinto Shrine has a history that is well over couple of thousand years old. The shrine's main structures were built in the Heian Period style.

Last year we began a "National Treasure Special Tour for Worship and Exhibition" for understanding Japanese tradition as conveyed to us by our ancestors since ancient times. A public lecture in English by one of our Shinto priests explains the history of the shrine and its sanctuary structures. Following the lecture will be the greeting to the Kami, or deity, at the inner court.

In addition, you can attend the exhibition of precious Shinto artifacts housed temporarily in the Takakura-den, which is recognized as an Important Cultural Property. (Normally, the items being displayed are installed inside the shrine as an offering and are rarely seen.) We would like to invite you deep in to the heart of Japanese culture and tradition at Kamigamo-jinja Shrine. We sincerely hope that you can attend this authentic cultural presentation.

Kamigamo-jinja Shinto Shrine (Formal name; Kamo-wake ikazuchi Jinja) Kamigamo-jinja is the oldest Shinto shrine in Kyoto, Japan.
Its origins go back to mythological times. Kamigamo-jinja Shrine is recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The Honden, or Main Shrine, and the Gonden, or Associate Shrine, are both National Treasures. The shrine is the main staging area for the Aoi Festival held every May, one of the three biggest festivals in Kyoto, and the original Matsuri.

Notice: This special program includes a Shinto Purification ceremony and greeting to the Kami deity as a cultural ceremony. However, everyone can attend this program. Couple of days in a year, we will not have this program for the ceremonial reason without notices in advance. (May 5th, May 9th through May 17th, Dec.
21st through Jan. 16th no tour for ceremonial reasons.) Every 9:30AM (Tour time required 20 to 30 min.) Donation 500 yen, per person (Group: 20 and more 450 yen per person, please notice us in advance) Location Kamigamo-jinja Naorai-den (Inside of red color painted Ro'mon tower gate; Important cultural proparty)

The World Heritage site

Kamigamo-jinja Shinto Shrine (Kamo-wake ikazuchi Jinja) 339 Motoyama, Kamigamo, Kita-ku, Kyoto, 603-8047, Japan
Tel 075-781-0011
Fax 075-702-6618