Kamigamo-jinja Shrine


This is a power spot exhibiting works of enthusiastic craftsmen in Kyoto.


Text : Keiko Nakamura


  Kamigamo-jinja Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto. Our guide, Mr.Kuriyama organizes an exhibition about works of Aoi leaf (hollyhock) for a traditional festival called ‘Aoi Matsuri’. All the different types of traditional craftsmen gather in a group and show their works based on a theme of ‘Traditional Crafts after 100 years.’

  Kamigamo-jinja Shrine appears in the mythology of ancient Japan and the main building already existed in 678. This is the most respectable shrine as a leader of 16 Chokusaisha shrines (shrine whose rituals are attended by an imperial envoy) in Japan in order to protect Kimon (weak point in the city) in Heian-kyo.


  After I went through the first and big torii gate of a shrine, the approach extends widely and I felt something refresh walking on that path. Behind the second torii gate, I saw two ’Tatezuna’, conical piled white sand. This is the place that the god descends on from the mountain 2km away from there and it is said to be the origin on purifying sand. In front of a tower gate, there is ‘Ganjo’ which is well-known as a power spot that the god and people can reach out together. Moving onto deep inside, I prayed at the main shrine which they finished the 42nd Shikinen Sengu (regular shrine removal) which they transfer a divine spirit by renewing the main shrine building once in 21 years. It still shows a freshness out of its rooftop that just finished changing an old thatched roof to a new one.


  The next place I visited was a main site called ‘Choya’ for ‘Futaba Afuhi exhibition’. I saw ’Narano-ogawa’ which streams inside the trees and it is well-known for Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (the card game of the one hundred famous poems) by Ietaka Fujiwara. This is the 6th exhibition they have held so far and at this time, they hold tea ceremony and Gagaku (old Japanese court music) live by the river. After I crossed this small river, a magnificent 300m height wooden building appeared in front of me. ‘Choya’ rebuilt by Iemitsu Tokugawa and it is the place to make offerings to the god. Nowadays, they hold Nohgaku and, poem competition and more things there and ‘Futaba Afuhi exhibition’ is one of them as well. 

  All participants are coming from different types of craftsmanship world such as a plasterer, a paper-hanger, a tatami maker, furniture upholsterer and a carpenter. There are collaboration works with different types of industries, and enthusiastic works that they’ve never done in their usual works. I saw a lot of works lining up with a feeling of new era.

  What they express there is something that has a quality in a life which is surrounded by carefully hand-made stuffs. I think we took it for granted and now it is rare to see around us. By making industrial rationalization, we are able to earn material wealth, but on the other hand, we lost spiritual happiness. Mr.Kuriyama said, “We can’t leave all these high quality craftsmanship behind us. We need to develop and make a new world with it. Without doing and making an effort for that, this traditional crafts will never survive in this world and we will never see a true wealth in our life anymore”.

This is the best place to feel and wonder, “What is tradition?” and “What is a true wealth? Next exhibition will be held in May, 2017. Of course you can just visit here anytime to go around all the different kinds of power spots and enjoy.

〈Kamigamo-jinja Shrine〉

ADDRESS : 339 Kamigamo-motoyama, Kita-ku, Kyoto City (MAP)

PHONE :  +81(0)75-781-0011

HOURS : 5:30 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m.

FEES : Free (special occasion : 500 yen)

WEBSITE : http://www.kamigamojinja.jp/