Kamigamo Shrine: Tower Gate at Kyoto’s Oldest Shrine (HDR Photo)
Kyoto has many old shrines. Kinkaku-ji has a history dating back to the 1300s, Fushimi Inari Taisha traces its origins back almost 1000 years. The oldest shrine in Kyoto, one of the oldest Shinto shrines in all of Japan, is the World Heritage Kamigamo Shrine.
Kamigamo Shrine 「Kamigamo-jinja/上賀茂神社」 is home to the ancient Aoi Matsuri 「Hollyhock Festival/葵祭」 which is one of Kyoto’s most famous, largest and important festivals. The shrine takes its name from the Kamo River, which is a 2 minute walk from the shrine.
HDR Photo of Kamigamo Shrine’s
Rōmon (Tower Gate)
The tower gate 「rōmon or roumon/楼門」 is a prominent structure of many shrines of all types in Japan. An almost identical tower gate is found at the sister shrine Shimogamo Shrine. While the tower gate can have many different architectural features, they all share one thing in common – they mark the entrance to an important place.
At Kamigamo Shrine the tower gate leads to the main sanctuary, the inner shrine where people pray and pay their respects to the Kamo-wake-ikazuchi-no-kami spirit. The shrine takes its formal name from this spirit: Kamo-wake-ikazuchi Shrine 「Kamo-wake-ikazuchi-jinja/賀茂別雷神社」.
I visited the shrine during some travels in October 2013. Arriving at around 3:30pm on an autumn day, I had about 1.5 hours to see the shrine, which is plenty as it is not a large shrine, although the surrounding park and forest is quite large.
How to get to Kamigamo Shrine
The easiest way to access the shrine is by the Kyoto City Bus. I recommend buying a ¥500 all day pass (these can be found at vending machines at the bus terminal in front of Kyoto station and often from a hotel’s reception).
- From Kyoto station take bus number 4.
- From the Gion/Kawaramachi area take bus number 46.
Kamigamo Shrine opening hours
The shrine is open every day from 8am to 5pm and is free to enter.