Shimogamo Jinja

I visited Shimogamo Jinja shrine in Kyoto last week. It’s another World Heritage site worth visiting. I decided to go there after hearing it was the last place in Kansai still good for viewing autumn leaves. There is a small, thinly-wooded area before the temple grounds with many Japanese maple and gingko trees. The Japanese maple trees were a mixture of red and orange, while yellow gingko leaves blanketed the ground. There is also a small stream that was very popular with the many photographers milling about. I used a “vivid” filter setting on my D80 for the first time, with satisfactory results.

The shrine itself isn’t like most others; it has a tall, brightly coloured torii gate and a number of small wooden structures in an enclosed area, including a stage, stream and pond. There is also an area with small mini-shrines for each animal of the Chinese zodiac. The shrine proper hosts a number of shinto ceremonies throughout the year, especially Kyoto’s famous Aoi Festival in May as well as a popular New Year’s celebration .

Just as I entered the shrine, there filed past a wedding party, with bride and groom in traditional garb. I followed it into an inner courtyard, where it soon disappeared into a huge hall, leaving a neat row of shoes outside.

Coupled with the small wooded area in front of the shrine’s entrance, Shimagamo shrine is a striking, peaceful place to visit. It is just 5 minutes from Keihan Demachiyanagi station.

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