Did you know that Shimogamo Shrine is the oldest shrine in Kyoto? Shimogamo Shrine is a World Heritage site and definitely one place in Kyoto you should definitely visit. It is also filled with great things for children to learn. Let us tell you about 5 recommended points of Shimogamo Shrine from a Kyoto local.
About Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto
The official name of Shimogamo Shrine is “Kamo-mioya-jinja.” It is called “Shimogamo” because of it’s location downstream (shimo) of the Kamo River (gamo). With an area of around 36,000 tsubo (about 120,000 square meters) there are buildings and other items listed as national treasures as well as important cultural properties for you to see. Shimogamo Shrine has long been a place in which the Japanese people place a lot of faith. As such it is common to see wedding ceremonies taking place there as well as other prayers or rites for various things such as unlucky years, traffic safety, couples wishing to have a child, people wishing to meet someone, etc. Now we will tell you the 5 reasons Shimogamo Shrine is a great place of learning for kids.
5 Reasons Shimogamo Shrine is a great place of learning for kids
1. One of Kyoto’s Oldest Shrines
Shimogamo Shrine is considered to be the oldest shrine in Kyoto, along with Kamigamo Shrine. In 1994 it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site as one of Kyoto’s Cultural Assets. If you visit Kyoto for sightseeing, you should definitely see these historical structures.
2. Sacred Oak Forest
Along the path approaching Shimogamo Shrine, you will see a forest of oak trees which spreads about 12 hectares. At the center of the forest is a broad-leaved tree and there are many trees in the area which are several hundred years old. From the beloved cherry blossoms in spring, to the gorgeous reds and oranges of the leaves in fall, the sacred oak forest is somewhere that you will feel mystique and healing.
3. Birthplace of Mitarashi Dango
Have you ever tried the traditional Japanese sweet called mitarashi dango? Mitarashi dango is a sticky rice dumpling covered with a sweet soy glaze and served on skewers. It is a Japanese sweet loved by people of all ages. Shimogamo Shrine is the birthplace of the mitarashi dango. It is said that the dumplings were made to look like the bubbles seen in the Mitarashi Pond located in the sacred oak forest. You can try them yourself at Kamo-mitarashi-Chaya which first opened in 1922 and is located on Shimogamo Hondori on the west side of Shimogamo Shrine. After seeing the historical structures and filling your mind, be sure to fill your stomach as well.
4. Imura Art Museum
Very near Shimogamo Shrine, you will find Imura Art Museum. The museum’s owner has collected works of Imaemon Porcelain and Kakiemon Porcelain, two famous brands of porcelain from the Arita area in Saga Prefecture. In the gallery on the first floor, you can see old ceramics such as Imari ware and Satsuma Kinrande, as well as pieces by Gallé, Baccarat, and Meissen. It’s free to look around the gallery, so if you visit Shimogamo Shrine we recommend going.
5. Yabusame Ceremony
The Yabusame Ceremony is a pre-ritual event which takes place before the Aoi Festival, one of the three major festivals in Kyoto. Yabusame is archery performed while riding a horse. The Yabusame Ceremony at Shimogamo Shrine is performed while wearing a court noble style official costume and is, therefore, a special sight to see. Seeing the Yabusame Ceremony of the Aoi Festival will be a great memory of your trip. The Aoi Festival takes place at Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine every year in May. Many spectators come from all over Japan and even abroad to see the festival, so if you would like to see it we recommend making plans early.
If you want your kids to have fun, but also learn something, then Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto is the place for you!
For a place that can be enjoyed even when visiting with kids and is also somewhere that will teach the kids something, the historical Shimogamo Shrine is definitely worth visiting. We should mention that at times of events such as the Yasubame Ceremony it does get quite crowded. Though it’s a great place to take kids, if you would like to enjoy Shimogamo Shrine without kids you can leave your kids with us at Kyoto with Kids Club and spend a more leisurely time visiting the shrine and walking around the surrounding area for a half-day.
Kyoto, Shimogamo Shrine Information
- Subway: From Kyoto Station take the city subway Karasuma line to Kitaoji Station and then take the city bus #1 or #205 to the stop Shimogamo Jinja Mae.
- Bus: From Kyoto Station take the city bus #4 or #205 to the stop Shimogamo Jinja Mae
- Train: Walk about 5 minutes from Kawaramachi Station to Keihan Gion Shijo Station and take the train to Demachiyanagi. From Demachiyanagi Station it is about a 12 minute walk.
59 Isumikawa-cho Shimogamo Sakyo-ku Kyoto-shi
(Japanese address) 京都市左京区下鴨泉川町59