Explore Kyoto’s Stunning Shimogamo Shrine: Nearby Gems Await!

“Shimogamo Shrine,” boasting a history of over 2000 years in Kyoto, is a must-visit spot known to both domestic and international tourists, being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, some may wonder, “What’s so famous about Shimogamo Shrine?” or “What can I see there?”

In this article, we’ll introduce the highlights of Shimogamo Shrine that would appeal to those curious visitors. We’ll also cover unique festivals, nearby tourist spots, and delicious food options around the shrine.

If you’re planning to visit Shimogamo Shrine, be sure to take a look for some useful insights!

What’s Shimogamo Shrine Like?

Shimogamo Shrine, also known as Kamomioya Shrine, is located in Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City. Thought to have been established before 90 B.C., Shimogamo Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto, boasting a history that predates many other religious sites in the city. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto,” it attracts visitors from both within and outside of Japan, making it a popular destination.

The main shrine is divided into two sections: the western hall, dedicated to Kamotaketsunumi-no-Mikoto, the deity believed to have laid the foundation of ancient Kyoto, and the eastern hall, where Tamayorihime-no-Mikoto, the mother of the deity worshipped at Kamigamo Shrine, Kamotaketsunumi-no-Mikoto, is enshrined. Because of this, Shimogamo Shrine is believed to bestow blessings related to world peace, abundant harvests, matchmaking, and safe childbirth, among others.

What to See at Shimogamo Shrine

Shimogamo Shrine boasts a total of 30 smaller shrines within its precincts, each dedicated to different deities. Among them, the Aioi Shrine for matchmaking and the Kawai Shrine for beauty are particularly renowned. Here, we’ll introduce must-see spots you shouldn’t miss when visiting Shimogamo Shrine.

Aioi Shrine (Aioi no Yashiro)

One of the most renowned blessings of visiting Shimogamo Shrine is for matchmaking, especially through its subsidiary shrine called “Aioi Shrine.” Aioi Shrine, known as a power spot, enshrines the deity of matchmaking, Musubi-no-Kami, who brings various kinds of good relationships, not limited to romantic connections.

Near the shrine, there’s a revered sacred tree called the “Linked Wise Tree.” Two trees are intertwined, and from the joint, a new sapling emerges, symbolizing the strong power of matchmaking.

In addition to the shrine’s blessings, popular items at the shrine’s gift shop include “Matchmaking Omikuji” and “Hime Amulets.” The Matchmaking Omikuji features waka poetry from The Tale of Genji, with male omikuji designed with motifs of ceremonial attire and female omikuji with motifs of twelve-layered robes. While traditional omikuji are often just pieces of paper with writing, these colorful ones are charming and elevate the excitement of the experience.

Additionally, the “Hime Amulets,” which are charms for matchmaking, are made of fine crepe fabric and feature vibrant designs that captivate the hearts of young women, making them extremely popular. Each amulet has a unique design, so you can get one-of-a-kind charm just for yourself from around the world.

Kawai Shrine

Kawai Shrine is a subordinate shrine of Shimogamo Shrine, dedicated to the guardian deity of women, Tamayorihime-no-Mikoto. Legend has it that Tamayorihime-no-Mikoto was as beautiful as a jewel, which led to her being revered as a goddess of beauty. Because of the belief that visiting the shrine can enhance one’s beauty, it’s particularly popular among women.

When visiting Kawai Shrine, don’t miss the opportunity to dedicate a “Mirror Ema” depicted in the photo. These ema, or votive tablets, are shaped like hand mirrors with faces drawn on them. Visitors apply makeup on these mirrors using their own cosmetics and write their wishes on the back. It’s said that by dedicating these ema, one can enhance both inner and outer beauty. Since mirror ema are quite unique and not commonly found elsewhere, be sure to make this special dedication during your visit.

Additionally, at the rest area of Kawai Shrine, you can purchase “Beauty Water” made from persimmons harvested within the shrine grounds. Persimmons are believed to have skin-beautifying effects, helping to create a hydrated and radiant complexion. While taking a break, make sure to try the persimmon water when you visit Kawai Shrine.

Mitarashi Shrine

“Mitarashi Shrine,” also known as “Inunoshishi Shrine,” is dedicated to a deity believed to ward off disasters and misfortune. It stands atop a well, hence its alternate name “Inunoshishi Shrine.” Water springs from the well, connecting it to the Mitarashi Pond and the Mitarashi River flowing through the shrine grounds.

Moreover, the Mitarashi River and Pond are famous as the birthplace of Mitarashi Dango, a traditional sweet. Legend has it that during the Dog Days of summer, clear water gushes from the river and pond, known as one of the “Seven Wonders of Kamogawa.” It’s said that the bubbles that rise to the surface during this gushing inspired the creation of Mitarashi Dango. As a result, there are many shops near Shimogamo Shrine where you can enjoy delicious Mitarashi Dango.


The “Ooidono” was where offerings to the gods were prepared. Designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan, it showcases replicas of stoves, cooking utensils, and offerings made during ancient times, providing a glimpse into the food culture from around 2000 years ago.

To have a special visit to the Ooidono, there is an admission fee of 500 yen (for high school students and above). It’s quite rare to find such a well-preserved Ooidono within a shrine, so it’s definitely a spot worth visiting when you’re at Shimogamo Shrine.

Tadasu no Mori

“Tadasu no Mori,” a primeval forest, has existed in Kyoto since ancient times and still covers an area of ​​approximately 124,000 square meters. Designated as a national historic site in 1983, it has been preserved to this day and serves as a perfect chill spot for locals.

Within the forest, four rivers flow, one of which, the Mitarashi River, is used during the aforementioned Mitarashi Festival. The trees surrounding the approach path stretch upwards, providing shade even in summer, making it an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll. Feel the negative ions as you walk along the path to the main shrine.

Famous Festivals at Shimogamo Shrine

At Shimogamo Shrine, various festivals and events take place throughout the year. Here, we’ll introduce festivals where you can experience the refined atmosphere of Kyoto, as well as summer festivals perfect for visiting with friends or as a couple. If you’re planning to visit Shimogamo Shrine, it’s recommended to schedule your visit around these festival dates.

Aoi Festival

Ranked among Kyoto’s three major festivals alongside the Gion Festival and the Jidai Festival, the Aoi Festival is one of the most prestigious traditional events in Kyoto. Also known as the “Kamo Festival,” this event dates back to the Heian period and is celebrated on May 15th each year. Its origin traces back approximately 1400 years when Emperor Kinmei enshrined the “Kamo deities” to appease famine and epidemic diseases prevalent at the time.

On the day of the Aoi Festival, a grand procession, spanning about 8 kilometers, parades from the Kyoto Imperial Palace to Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine. People dressed in traditional court attire, such as the twelve-layered ceremonial robes, pull ox-drawn carts adorned with aoi (hollyhock) leaves, resembling a scene straight out of the Heian period.

For those who wish to enjoy the spectacle at a leisurely pace, paid viewing seats are available along the route from the Kyoto Imperial Palace to the Shimogamo Shrine approach. Be sure to check them out!

Mitarashi Festival

The “Mitarashi Festival” is held at a pond called Mitarashi Ike, located at the shrine, on the midsummer day of the ox in the Japanese lunar calendar. It’s believed that by dipping your feet in the pond on this day, you can avoid illness, so people come to pray for good health during a purification ritual.

This festival is particularly popular, attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year during its duration. For four days before and after the day of the festival, visitors can come to the shrine until 10 p.m., and the atmosphere is lively with night stalls set up inside the precincts.

I’ve personally visited the Mitarashi Festival, and the experience of walking through the dimly lit pond while dipping my feet in the cold water was quite mystical. Since you’ll be walking barefoot in the river, it’s a good idea to bring a towel to dry your wet feet. After offering candles, they distribute holy water, so be sure to take some before leaving.

Tourist Attractions around Shimogamo Shrine

If you’re visiting Kyoto, you’ll want to explore as many spots as possible while you’re here, right? Here, we’ll introduce some tourist attractions within a 30-minute radius from Shimogamo Shrine, all easily accessible. Be sure to consider these when planning your itinerary!

Ginkakuji Temple

About 30 minutes away from Shimogamo Shrine by bus and walking lies Ginkakuji Temple, formally known as Jisho-ji Temple in the Higashiyama district. It’s a Zen temple belonging to the Rinzai sect’s Shokoku-ji School. Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto,” Ginkakuji, founded by Ashikaga Yoshimasa, stands as an epitome of the Higashiyama culture.

When you think of Ginkakuji, the image of its reflection on the water surface often comes to mind. While its wooden structure may lack the opulence of Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji’s serene presence surrounded by lush greenery exudes a solemn atmosphere. Pairing a visit to Ginkakuji with Shimogamo Shrine promises a fulfilling Kyoto experience.

Silver Pavilion Temple Visitor Information

Philosopher’s Path

The Philosopher’s Path, located about a 30-minute bus and walking distance from Shimogamo Shrine, is a pedestrian path that stretches along the Biwa Canal from near Jisho-ji Temple in the north to near Ginkaku-ji Temple in the south, running along the eastern side of the Kyoto city area.

The name “Philosopher’s Path” comes from the story that the philosopher Kitaro Nishida pondered here while walking along this path.

If you visit the Philosopher’s Path, I recommend coming in spring or autumn. In spring, you can enjoy cherry blossoms, and in autumn, you can see beautiful fall foliage at its peak. There are also plenty of cafes, restaurants, and shops in the area for you to explore.

Tourist Information for the Philosopher’s Path:

  • Address: Jodoji, Ishibashi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
  • Map: Google Maps
  • Access: A 7-minute walk from the “Ginkakuji-michi” bus stop on Kyoto City Bus

Kyoto Imperial Palace Gardens

Kyoto Imperial Palace Gardens, a national park with the Kyoto Imperial Palace where successive emperors lived and conducted political affairs until the Meiji era. Covering an extensive area of 65 hectares, Kyoto Imperial Palace Gardens feature grounds, tennis courts, and even courts for children, serving as a recreational spot for nearby residents. With plenty of benches and resting areas, it’s a perfect place to take a break during your exploration of Kyoto.

Moreover, Kyoto Imperial Palace Gardens is renowned for its beautiful plum blossoms, cherry blossoms, and autumn foliage. When you visit during spring or autumn, consider having a picnic on one of the benches.

Kyoto Imperial Palace Gardens Visitor Information

Gourmet Spots Around Shimogamo Shrine

If you’re feeling tired from sightseeing, why not take a break at a café or sweet shop? Here, we’ll introduce you to some sweet shops within the precincts of Shimogamo Shrine, as well as cafés where you can enjoy lunch in the surrounding area. Experience Kyoto not only through sightseeing but also through its culinary delights.

Rest Area: Saruya

Located near the south gate torii of Shimogamo Shrine is the “Rest Area Saruya.” As the only sweet shop within the shrine grounds, a must-try here is the “Mamecha and Sarumochi Set” (¥600).

“Mamecha” refers to black soybean tea made from soybeans grown in the Tango region, known for its health and beauty benefits. Additionally, “Sarumochi” is a type of rice cake eaten during the Aoi Festival in the early Meiji period, recreated after 140 years. Made with mochi rice cooked in azuki bean broth and filled with red beans, this Sarumochi is irresistible to Japanese sweet lovers. They also offer shaved ice and zenzai, so why not share and compare with your companions?

Store Information for Rest Area Saruya

  • Access: Located on the west side of the south gate torii within the Shimogamo Shrine precincts
  • Opening Hours: 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM

Kamo Mitarashi Teahouse

Located just a 4-minute walk from Shimogamo Shrine is the famous Kamo Mitarashi Teahouse, known for its mitarashi dango. As Shimogamo Shrine is the birthplace of mitarashi dango, the ones served here are particularly renowned, attracting many visitors on their way back from prayers.

The recommended menu item is undoubtedly the “Mitarashi Dango” (set of 3 for 420 yen). Each skewer holds five small dumplings, making them easy to enjoy in just a few bites. Coated with a rich sauce made from black sugar and flavored with soy sauce, these dumplings offer an irresistible sweetness that’s enhanced by a hint of savory soy sauce. Served fresh and warm, the dumplings have a crispy, fragrant exterior that sets them apart from store-bought versions.

Since the mitarashi dango is available for takeout, it’s a great souvenir option to bring home. Apart from mitarashi dango, other popular items include isomaki (set of 4 for 680 yen) and warabi mochi (550 yen).

Store Information for Kamo Mitarashi Teahouse

  • Address: 53 Shimogamo Matsunoki-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
  • Map: Google Maps
  • Access: 1-minute walk from the Kyoto City Bus “Ipponmatsu” stop 15-minute walk from the Keihan Electric Railway “Demachiyanagi” station
  • Phone Number: 075-791-1652
  • Closed on Wednesdays (Open on holidays)
  • Opening Hours: 9:30 to 19:00 (Last Order at 18:00)

Kamogawa Cafe

Located about a 30-minute walk or a 15-minute bus ride from Shimogamo Shrine is “Kamogawa Cafe.” This cafe is renowned for its freshly roasted coffee and curry rice, making it a cozy spot perfect for gatherings with friends. With its high ceilings and spacious interior, Kamogawa Cafe offers a relaxing atmosphere where you can unwind and enjoy a leisurely time.

One of the recommended menu items is the “Today’s Curry Rice” from the lunch menu priced at 750 yen. This set includes a weekly changing curry along with salad and yogurt, offering a satisfying meal at a great value. The curry is not too spicy, making it suitable even for those who are not fond of spicy food.

In one corner of the cafe, you’ll find shelves lined with manga and books, allowing you to enjoy your coffee while reading. It’s a perfect spot for a break when exploring the Shimogamo Shrine area.

Store Information for Kamogawa Cafe

  • Address: 229-1 Uoetsu-cho, Nishi Aragaki-guchi-agaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
  • Map: Google Maps
  • Access:
    • 10 minutes north on foot from Keihan Electric Railway “Jingu Marutamachi” Station
    • 3 minutes on foot from Kyoto City Bus “Aragami-guchi” Station
  • Phone Number: 075-211-4757
  • Closed on: Thursdays
  • Business Hours: 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM (Last Order at 10:30 PM)

Recommended Souvenirs for Visiting Shimogamo Shrine

The area around Shimogamo Shrine is well-known for its variety of specialty Japanese sweet shops. The shops we’re going to introduce this time are beloved not only by tourists but also by locals.

Demachi Futaba Main Store “Myodai Mame-mochi”

Located a 15-minute walk from Shimogamo Shrine is the renowned shop “Demachi Futaba Main Store,” famous for its Myodai Mame-mochi. Established in 1899, this shop has been a fixture in the Demachiyanagi shopping street, drawing crowds even on weekdays due to its popularity. Such is its acclaim that it has expanded to locations like Shichijo, JR Kyoto Isetan, and even Tokyo.

The “Myodai Mame-mochi” is the flagship item here. Made with fresh beans from Hokkaido, it boasts a delicate balance of mildly sweet red bean paste and the subtle saltiness of the beans, resulting in an exquisite flavor.

As the mochi is best enjoyed fresh, consider purchasing an extra piece to savor along the Kamo River. If you plan ahead, you can reserve your purchase via phone, specifying the desired items and pickup time, ensuring a hassle-free experience without waiting in line.

Store Information for Demachi Futaba Main Store

  • Address: 236 Seiryu-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
  • Map: Google Maps
  • Access:
    • 7-minute walk from Demachiyanagi Station on the Keihan Electric Railway
    • 2-minute walk from Kawaramachi Imadegawa bus stop on the Kyoto City Bus
  • Phone Number: +81-75-231-1658
  • Closed: Tuesdays, and the 4th Wednesday of the month (If a national holiday falls on these days, the shop will be closed the following day).
    • Also closed during the New Year holidays.
  • Business Hours: 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM

Yebisu-ya Kayuhei’s “Yairo Mochi”

Located on the west side of Shimogamo Shrine, next to Kawai Shrine, is “Yebisu-ya Kayuhei.” Here, you can find a Shimogamo Shrine specialty called “Yairo Mochi” (grilled rice cake), where mochi (rice cake) lightly grilled on the outside is filled with plenty of sweet bean paste.

While grilled mochi is famous around Kamigamo Shrine, with shops like “Aoiya” and “Jinbado,” Yebisu-ya Kayuhei’s version stands out for its unique taste. The slightly less sweet bean paste is wrapped in a chewy, elastic skin, offering a light and smooth flavor. With a shelf life of about 4 days, it makes a perfect gift for your family or colleagues.

Yebisu-ya Kayuhei Store Information

  • Address: 13 Shimogamo Matsubara-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
  • Map: Google Maps
  • Access:
    • 10 minutes on foot from Keihan Electric Railway “Demachiyanagi” Station
    • 2 minutes on foot from Kyoto City Bus “Shin Aoi Hashi” Station
  • Phone number: 075-781-0639
  • Closed on Tuesdays
  • Business hours: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Guide to Visiting Shimogamo Shrine

The visiting hours within the precincts are from 6:30 AM to 5:00 PM, while special access to the Ooimiyaden (Great Kitchen) is available from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. During festival periods, the opening and closing hours may vary, so please check the official website of Shimogamo Shrine for detailed information. There are no closed days, so you can visit anytime.

Additionally, there is no admission fee for general access. However, please note that there is a fee of 500 yen for high school students and above to visit the Ooimiyaden.

Tourist information for Shimogamo Shrine:

  • Address: 59 Shimogamo Izumigawa-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto 606-0807, Japan
  • Map: Google Maps
  • Phone number: +81 75-781-0010
  • Closed days: None
  • Visiting hours: 6:30 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Official website: Shimogamo Shrine

Access to Shimogamo Shrine

When visiting Shimogamo Shrine, it’s recommended to use the city bus if you want to save on transportation costs. Alternatively, if you prefer driving, there is also a parking lot available, making it convenient to reach by car.

If you’re using trains or buses:

The nearest train station is Demachiyanagi Station, which is served by the Keihan Electric Railway and Eizan Electric Railway. The closest bus stop is “Shimogamo Shrine-mae.” We’ll also provide directions from Kyoto Station, which is served by JR, Kintetsu, and the Kyoto Municipal Subway, as well as from Hankyu’s Kawaramachi Station.

Access from Kyoto Station (JR, Kintetsu, Kyoto Municipal Subway)

If you’re using city buses:

From Kyoto Station, head to bus stop A2 and take bus routes 4 or 205. After about 30 minutes, get off at “Shimogamo Shrine-mae” stop and walk for about 3 minutes to reach the shrine. This option is cost-effective and doesn’t require transfers. However, Kyoto Station’s bus terminal can be a bit confusing, so it’s advisable to allow extra time if you’re not familiar with it.

If you’re taking trains:

From Kyoto Station on the JR Nara Line, board a train bound for Nara. Transfer to the Keihan Electric Railway at “Tofukuji” Station. Take the Keihan Main Line bound for Demachiyanagi and get off at “Demachiyanagi” Station. From there, it’s about a 12-minute walk to the shrine. This option usually gets you there faster and offers clearer guidance, making it preferable for those new to Kyoto.

Access from Hankyu Kawaramachi Station

By City Bus:

From the bus stop A2 at Shijo Kawaramachi Station, take bus routes 4 or 205. After about a 10-minute ride, get off at “Shimogamo Shrine-mae” stop. It’s just a 3-minute walk from there to the shrine. Taking the city bus is a convenient option, allowing you to reach the shrine quickly and affordably.

By Train:

Transfer to the Keihan Electric Railway at Gion Shijo Station, then board the train bound for Demachiyanagi. After getting off at Demachiyanagi Station, it’s about a 12-minute walk to the shrine. Using the train provides a straightforward and efficient way to reach the shrine, with clear instructions for transfers and walking directions.

For over 2000 years, Shimogamo Shrine has stood in Kyoto, watching over its people. As you visit this serene place, surrounded by lush greenery and numerous shrines, you’ll likely feel its powerful presence and ancient energy.


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