Shimogamo shrine is one of the two famous "kamo" shrines in Kyoto city. The name Shimogamo literally means "lower kamo" shrine, as the other kamo shrine (kamigamo shrine) is located further north of the Shimogamo shrine. Shimogamo shrine is closer to the center of the city, slightly towards the northeastern side of Kyoto city. This shrine can be easily reached by Bus from JR Kyoto station. Along with the Kamigamo shrine, Shimogamo shrine is designated as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
This shrine is also known as Kamomioya Shrine. This shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto, and goes back to the days even before the Heian era. The Kamo shrines are built by the Kamo clan which ruled Kyoto area before the Heian era.
Shimogamo Shrine Seals
Shimogamo shrine, enshrines the mother and the grandfather, Tamayorihime-no-mikoto and Kamotaketsunumi-no-mikoto, of the deity enshrined in Kamigamo Shrine. After 794 (this year signifies the time when Kyoto was designated as a Capital of ancient Japan by the Heian era rulers), the two shrines were deeply revered by the Heian Imperial court, court nobles and sumarai warriors, as the guardian deities of the Imperial capital. For about 400 years from 810, Imperial princesses served the Kamo Shrines as Saio (Imperial Shrine maidens).
Shimogamo Shrine Forest (Tadasu-no-mori)
The east and west main buildings, rebuilt in 1863, are designated as National Treasures. In addition, many other buildings in the shrine precincts are designated as Important Cultural Assets. The natural forest within the precinct covers the vast area of 124,000 square meters (three times as large as the Tokyo Dome). It is popularly known as "Tadasu-no-mori" among Kyoto citizens. The forest is designated as a Historic Site by the national government since it is an invaluable remnant of the primeval forest that existed even before the 794. The ecology of this forest has been preserved, even though it is right in the middle of the Kyoto city.
On May 15th every year, the Aoi (hollyhock) festival, one of the three biggest festivals in Kyoto, is held and displays the gorgeous lifestyle of the Heian period (794-1192) with a procession along the streets of the ancient capital from the former imperial palace through this shrine to Kamigamo shrine. The shrine events of Yabusame (horseback archery) on May 3rd and the Mitarashi festival in late July, are also famous, throughout Japan.