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Matsunoo Taisha Grand Shrine

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Matsunoo Taisha Grand Shrine
Matsunoo Taisha Grand Shrine Front Tori (Gate)

Matsunoo Taisha Grand Shrine is located in western most part of the Kyoto City, almost on the border of the famous Arashiyama District.  The location of this shrine unofficially marks the western end of the famous Shijo Avenue (fourth avenue).  The eastern end of Shijo Avenue is the Yasaka Shrine at the foothills of Higashiyama.  This shrine can be easily reached from the JR Kyoto station by bus.

The enshrined deity at this Shrine is called Oyamakui no Mikoto.  It is said that this shrine was created when Hatano Imikitori invited the divine spirit from Mt. Matsuo (Matsuosan) as the guardian deity of the Hata Clan and constructed the shrine building for it.  The Hata clan are essentially Korean Immigrants to Japan. 

They introduced many agricultural and technological principles to Japan.  The Hata clan, even though, they were immigrants, later rose to the status of Governors (in Japanese "Miyatsuko") for certain groups of villages in Western Japan, during the pre Heian era.  It is also said that they are responsible for establishment of the sixth century Kyoto city, which later became the capital city of the Heian era rulers of Japan, known as Heiankyo.

This shrine has attracted the faithful for it's god of capital protection after the national capital was transferred to Kyoto in 794 and for it's god of sake brewing after the Middle Ages.

Matsunoo Taisha Grand Shrine Seal

The main sanctuary (an important cultural property), rebuilt in 1542, is constructed in a rare architectural style called Matsunoo-zukuri (Ryonagare-zukuri).  The treasure hall enshrines two life sized sedentary images of gods and one sedentary image of a goddess, which are both important cultural properties. 

A lot of people visit this shrine especially during the annual Matsuo Festival in April, when many Japanese globe flowers (type of Cherry Blossoms) are in bloom and portable shrines (called "Mikoshi" in Japanese) are floated to the opposite shore of the Katsura River, and in July, when the shrine holds the Ondasai Festival.  The boats used during this festival can be seen in the precincts of this Grand Shrine.  Although not well known to the foreign visitors, this Shrine is very well known and revered by the people of the Kyoto City.  Since the shrine is almost at the outskirts of Kyoto city, the views around the approach to the Shrine are extremely breath taking. 

Here is a video of Matsunoo Taisha Grand Shrine:

As mentioned above this shrine also enshrines the "Kami of Sake Brewing".  It is said that sake will not go bad if it is brewed with a portion of this shrine's miraculous "kamenoi" spring water.  This spring, which can be seen originating at Mt. Matsuo at the back of the shrine, flows through the shrine.  There are many old Sake barrels around the shrine, which are dedicated to the god of sake brewing.  Just outside the shrine precincts there is a Sake Brewing Museum, which shows tradition and evolution of Sake Brewing in Japan.

Here is a bonus video of the Sake Brewing Museum near the Matsunoo Taisha Grand Shrine precincts:

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