One of Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites with a rich history as ancient shinto shrine

Kamigamo shrine is the oldest Shinto shrine in Kyoto. Kamigamo Shrine was first mentioned in 678, on a historical text with the formal name of Kamo-Wakeikazuchi Jinja.

The shrine is known for its Aoi Matsuri (Hollyhock Festival), one of Kyoto’s three big festivals being held every May 15th at 10:30am, a large procession dressed in the style of the Heian court leaves from the Imperial Palace to Shimogamo Shrine, and ends the day at Kamigamo Shrine.

Kamigamo Shrine is traditionally linked with alongside Shimogamo Shrine. The two shrines is collectively as the Kamo Shrines in pairs.  

Honden sanctuary

The honden sits beyond the brilliant colored two-story romon gate, approached via a slightly curved sacred bridge crossing over a clear stream. 

The sanctuaries are said to have been built at the end of the 7th century. These sanctuaries stand on a huge site. The main shrine and the Gonden (the temporary main shrine where the deity is enshrined while the main shrine was being built) are designated as National Treasures and 34 other buildings of this shrine are designated as Important Cultural Properties. Each one of these structures is also recognized by UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage. 




Visitors can find the two carefully formed sand cones, called “Tatesuna” in front of the Hosodono hall. They represent the divine mountain Ko-yama where the kami Kamo Wakeikazuchi descended from the heavens.  Look closely Tatesuna, to find the “evergreen tree” on the top of the corn, represented as a single pine needle stuck in the sand.

The shrine is surrounded by stone walls and white earthen walls. The neighborhood of uniquely shaped houses in which past shinto priests at this shrine lived has been selected by the national government as an Important Traditional Residential Area. Some of these houses are open to the public.

photo by t_kawaji2010@flickr

Address : 339 Kamigamo-motoyama, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi

Access : 15-minute walk from Kitayama station on the Karasuma subway line.

Bus : Kyoto City Bus No.4 from JR Kyoto Station to Kamigamo-jinjya mae.

Hours : 8:30 to 17:00

Closed : May 5, 9-17, New Years holidays (Dec. 21-Jan. 16)

Admission : 500 yen (Main hall, regular fee)

Benefit : All prayers

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