Kataoka-sha: Shrine of Love at Kamigamo-jinja, Kyoto (HDR Photo)
This small structure is a sub-shrine of the World Heritage Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto. Many shrine complexes contain multiple shrines, often dedicated to deities who have a connection to the area. Another example is the Soga Brothers Shrine and 9-Headed-Dragon Shrine at Hakone Shrine.
The shrine is dedicated to the mother of the main deity of Kamigamo Shrine. Wooden ema prayer boards in the shape of a love heart hang in front of the shrine, on which people write prayers to the mother-god for a good marriage, children and love.
Traditional Shinto marriage ceremonies are held here, and the Kataoka-sha is an important visit during the ceremony’s rituals.
Located just beyond Kamigamo-jinja’s second torii, but before the rōmon (tower gate, 楼門) leading to the main worship hall, this tiny shrine is tucked away on the edge of a sacred forest, and even has its own small ceremonial bridge.