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20 Beautiful Shrines in Kyoto: From Famous Locations to Unique Ones

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Embarking on a journey to explore Kyoto's shrines? We introduce 20 shrines that are often visited by people who wish to pray for good fortune, relationships, and health. Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kifune Shrine, and Yasaka Shrine are just some of Kyoto's remarkable shrines.

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The spiritual culture of Kyoto has been shaped by the multitude of local shrines and temples over the centuries. For first-time visitors to Kyoto, it may be difficult to know where to start exploring.

In this article, we have carefully selected 20 unique shrines in Kyoto that are each famous as prayer spots and boast remarkable histories.

20 Famous Shrines in Kyoto

Renowned Shrines
1. Yasaka Shrine in Gion
2. Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
3. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
4. Shimogamo Shrine
5. Kamigamo Shrine
6. Kifune Shrine
Shrines to Pray for Good Relationships
7. Jishu Shrine
8. Nonomiya Shrine
9. Imamiya Shrine
10. Yasui Konpiragu Shrine
Shrines with Beautiful Gardens
11. Heian Jingu Shrine
12. Matsunoo Taisha Shrine
Power Spots and Shrines to Pray for Wealth
13. Kurumazaki Shrine
14. Seimei Shrine
15. Mikane Shrine
16. Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine
Unique Shrines in Kyoto
17. Ichihime Shrine
18. Okazaki Shrine
19. Mikami Shrine
20. Kawai Shrine

Renowned Shrines in Kyoto

When visiting Kyoto for the first time, it's a good idea to start by visiting these well-known shrines to get acquainted with Japan's Shinto culture and worldview.

1. Yasaka Shrine in Gion

20 Beautiful Shrines in Kyoto: From Famous Locations to Unique Ones

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Yasaka Shrine, affectionately called "Gion-san" by Kyoto locals, is the head shrine of all Yasaka Shrines throughout Japan. It is said that long ago it helped suppress an epidemic in Kyoto, thus gathering faith in warding off evil and illness.

The Gion Festival, held for an entire month every July, is the main festival of Yasaka Shrine. This celebration has a history of over a thousand years. The sacred water that springs from the Bijin-no-yu Shrine within the grounds, dedicated to three goddesses, is renowned as beauty water.

Yasaka Shrine
Address: 625 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
Official website: https://www.yasaka-jinja.or.jp/

2. Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

20 Beautiful Shrines in Kyoto: From Famous Locations to Unique Ones

Picture courtesy of Pixta

Fushimi Inari Taisha, famous for its spectacular thousands of vermilion torii gates, has a history of a thousand years and is the head shrine of about 30,000 Inari shrines throughout Japan. It enshrines the main deity for abundant harvests and prosperous business and has been closely intertwined with people's lives since ancient times.

20 Beautiful Shrines in Kyoto: From Famous Locations to Unique Ones

Picture courtesy of Pixta

The torii tunnel lines the mountainous hiking trail of Inariyama, stretching about 4 kilometers, and is a popular photography spot both domestically and internationally.

Fushimi Inari Taisha
Address: 68 Yabunouchicho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto
Official website: https://inari.jp/en/

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3. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

20 Beautiful Shrines in Kyoto: From Famous Locations to Unique Ones

Picture courtesy of Pixta

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, with a history of over a thousand years, enshrines the god of academics, Sugawara no Michizane. It is the headquarters of over 12,000 Tenjin shrines and Tenmangu shrines throughout Japan, attracting many students who come to pray for success in their examinations.

The main hall has a history of over 400 years, and its dignified appearance has earned it the designation of a national treasure in Japan. The garden within the shrine grounds, known as the Momiji-en, features green maple trees in early summer and red maple leaves in late autumn, making it a renowned spot for viewing autumn foliage in Kyoto.

20 Beautiful Shrines in Kyoto: From Famous Locations to Unique Ones

Picture courtesy of Pixta

Kitano Tenmangu is also famous as a plum blossom viewing spot. Its garden is home to several varieties of plum trees that go into bloom in early February filling the air with a delicate fragrance.

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
Address: Kurumakoji, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto
Official website: https://kitanotenmangu.or.jp/

4. Shimogamo Shrine

shimogamo shrine

Shimogamo Shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a long history. Records indicate that it has been a place of worship since as early as 90 BC, making it a renowned spiritual destination in Kyoto.

The shrine's expansive primeval forest, known as Tadasu no Mori, boasts trees ranging from 200 to 600 years old, and a tranquil stream running alongside, providing a serene atmosphere. In the autumn, visitors can enjoy a breathtaking display of colorful autumn leaves.

Shimogamo Shrine
Address: 59 Shimogamo Izumigawa-cho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto
Official website: https://www.shimogamo-jinja.or.jp/

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5. Kamigamo Shrine

Kyoto Shrines: 20 Unique Selections for Seeking Divine Guidance in Luck, Relationships, and Wealth

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Kamigamo Shrine, believed to have been established over two thousand years ago, enshrines the deity Kamotaketsunomi no Mikoto and is a place of faith associated with warding off evil and ensuring victory.

The annual Kamigamo Festival (Aoi Matsuri) held in May is one of the three major festivals in Kyoto. During the procession, participants dressed in Heian-era aristocratic attire depart from the Kyoto Imperial Palace, pass by the Shimogamo Shrine, and finally arrive at the Kamigamo Shrine, showcasing the culture of the Heian period (794-1185) along the 8-kilometer route.

Kamigamo Shrine
Address: 339 Kamigamo Motoyama, Kita Ward, Kyoto
Official website: https://www.kamigamojinja.jp/

6. Kifune Shrine

20 Beautiful Shrines in Kyoto: From Famous Locations to Unique Ones

Picture courtesy of Pixta

During a snowy winter, the vermilion lanterns lining the steps create an exceptionally mystical atmosphere, attracting many visitors to make the effort to visit the Kifune Shrine.

Kifune Shrine enshrines water deities and serves as the head shrine for water-related shrines throughout Japan. Additionally, it is said that during the Heian period, the famous writer and poet Izumi Shikibu came here to pray for a successful reunion with her husband, establishing the Kifune Shrine as a renowned site for seeking romantic connections.

Along the way to the Kifune Shrine, there are many restaurants set up along the riverbed serving cold noodles, providing relief from the summer heat and always drawing long lines.

Kifune Shrine
Address: 18 Kurama Kibunecho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto
Official Website: https://kifunejinja.jp/en/

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Shrines to Pray for Good Relationships

In Japan, it is believed crucial to cultivate positive relationships and seek the influence of noble individuals not only in matters of love but also in one's professional and career pursuits. The following are shrines often visited by people who seek favorable connections and opportunities.

7. Jishu Shrine (*currently closed for renovation)

shrine

Jishu Shrine, located next to Kiyomizudera Temple, enshrines the deity of love and relationships, Okuninushi no Mikoto.

Within the shrine grounds, there is a well-known "love fortune-telling stone" that can be used to divine one's romantic fortunes. It is said that if one can walk in a straight line from one stone to another with their eyes closed, their wish regarding relationships will come true.

Jishu Shrine
Address: 317 Kitamachi, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto
Official website: https://www.jishujinja.or.jp/

8. Nonomiya Shrine

20 Beautiful Shrines in Kyoto: From Famous Locations to Unique Ones

Picture courtesy of Pixta

Nonomiya Shrine, located in Arashiyama, is surrounded by the natural greenery of the area, and visitors who come in early summer can also enjoy the moss-covered ground resembling a velvet carpet.

The shrine's rare black wooden torii gate is said to be one of the earliest styles of torii gates in Japan. It is known for its deity, Nonomiya Daikokuten, associated with forming good relationships. Legend has it that by making a wish and touching the black sacred stone within the shrine's grounds, one's desire will come true within a year.

Nonomiya Shrine
Address: 1 Saga Nogamimachi, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto
Official website: http://www.nonomiya.com/

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9. Imamiya Shrine

shrines

Imamiya Shrine was originally built to quell an epidemic. According to legend, after the shrine declined, it experienced a revival due to a woman named Otama. Originally the daughter of a greengrocer, Otama later became the concubine of Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, and was given the title Keishoin; she became the mother of the fifth shogun, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi.

This Cinderella-like story has led many people to believe that visiting the Imamiya Shrine can bring them good luck and a prosperous marriage as if they were boarding a "tama-no-koshi" (a palanquin for a noblewoman).

Imamiya Shrine
Address: 21 Konoimiya-cho, Kita Ward, Kyoto
Official website: http://www.imamiyajinja.org/

10. Yasui Konpiragu Shrine

shrine

When you wish to pursue good relationships but also want to sever negative ties, you should definitely visit Yasui Konpiragu Shrine. This shrine, which has existed since the Asuka period (592 - 710), is well-known for breaking negative connections.

You can write your wish on a piece of katashiro paper, then pass it through the circular hole in the En-dan-en-ketsu stone monument, which is 1.5 meters high and 3 meters wide, located next to the main shrine building. After that, you affix the paper to the monument to complete the prayer ceremony.

Yasui Konpiragu Shrine
Address: 70 Shimobenten-cho, Matsubara-dori Higashiooji, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto
Official website: http://www.yasui-konpiragu.or.jp/en/

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Shrines with Beautiful Gardens

Typically, temple gardens are well-known for their scenic landscapes, but the gardens of these two shrines in Kyoto are also quite famous!

11. Heian Jingu Shrine

heian jingu

In the cultural-rich city of Kyoto, the Heian Jingu Shrine, established in 1895 to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the relocation of the capital to present-day Kyoto, does not have a particularly long history.

What makes Heian Jingu special are the vermillion-colored buildings, such as the replica of the Daikokuden (Great Hall of State) and the Taiheiden (Hall of Great Peace), which mimic the architecture of the ancient Heian capital. The shrine also features a 30,000 square meter strolling garden with various flowers, presenting splendid scenery with each changing season.

Heian Jingu Shrine
Address: 97 Okazaki Nishitenno-cho, Sakyo ward, Kyoto
Official website: http://www.heianjingu.or.jp/english/english.html

12. Matsunoo Taisha Shrine

kyoto shrine

Matsunoo Taisha Shrine, located on the western side of Kyoto, features a main hall that dates back to the Muromachi period (1336-1573). Within the shrine grounds, the Matsukaze-en Garden spans a wide area and is comprised of three separate gardens, creating a rich and playful landscape.

The clear water of the Reiki Waterfall behind the shrine is believed to possess qualities that offer longevity and health, and nearby residents often come to collect this water for personal use.

Matsunoo Taisha Shrine
Address: 3 Arashiyama-Miyamachi, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto
Official website: https://www.matsunoo.or.jp/ (Japanese)

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Power Spots

For those seeking blessings for luck, wealth, and success in their careers, these shrines are not to be missed.

13. Kurumazaki Shrine

shrine

It is believed that the Geino Shrine within Kurumazaki Shrine can offer blessings to the ones working in the entertainment industry, and it is quite famous among Japanese entertainers. The shrine has received thousands of donated red votive tiles, and visitors can also have the opportunity to see which celebrities have paid a visit!

Additionally, it is said that taking home one of the prayer stones within the shrine grounds can make one's wishes come true. If the wish does come true, the stone is then returned to the Kurumazaki Shrine. Therefore, the stone taken home as a wish is also a way to bring back good luck shared by others.

Kurumazaki Shrine
Address: 23 Saga Asahi-cho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto
Offical website: http://www.kurumazakijinja.or.jp/ (Japanese)

14. Seimei Shrine

shrine

Established in 1007, Seimei Shrine enshrines Abe no Seimei, a famous onmyoji (yin-yang master) who was active during the mid-Heian period in Japan, renowned for exorcism and warding off evil.

People deeply believe that by praying to Seimei, they can receive incredible spiritual protection, avoid disasters, and find healing and recovery. The figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu, known for his prowess in figure skating, visited the shrine to pray before performing a piece from the soundtrack of the movie "Onmyoji," attracting many fans to make pilgrimages to the shrine.

Seimei Shrine
Address: 806 Seimeicho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto
Official website: https://www.seimeijinja.jp/ (Japanese)

15. Mikane Shrine

kyoto shrine

With its striking golden torii gate, Mikane Shrine immediately brings to mind thoughts of financial prosperity. It primarily enshrines the deity Kanayama-hiko, who governs mining and minerals, as well as currency and real estate.

As a renowned shrine for financial fortune, many people come here to "wash their money" in hopes of improving their financial luck. It is said that by rinsing money in the pure water from the shrine's purifying well, the money is transformed into a lucky charm, bringing good fortune to its owner.

Mikane Shrine
Address: 614 Oshinishidoincho, Nishinotoin-dori, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto
Official website: https://mikane-jinja.or.jp/ (Japanese)

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16. Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine

shrine

In Kyoto's bustling Nishiki Market, you'll encounter a shrine—the Nishiki Temmangu Shrine. Originally established at Rokkaku Kawara-in, it was relocated to its current location in 1587 as part of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's urban planning, continuing to watch over the prosperous Nishiki Market to this day.

In addition to prayers for academic success, it also has the effect of bringing good luck and warding off misfortune.

Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine
Address: 537 Nakanocho, Shijo-agaru, Shin-kyogoku-dori, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto
Official website: https://nishikitenmangu.or.jp/

Other Unique Shrines in Kyoto

Read on to learn about shrines specialized in warding women from bad luck, shrines related to hair, and other unique locations.

17. Ichihime Shrine

shrine

Ichihime Shrine is dedicated to female deities, and since ancient times it has been revered by many empresses. It is seen as a shrine that protects and removes misfortunes for women. Many women visit to pray for good relationships, fertility, safe childbirth, and other blessings.

Ichihime Shrine
Address: Nishiiru, Ichijosagaru, Kawaramachi, Shimogyo ward, Kyoto
Official website: https://www.ichihime.net/index.html (Japanese)

18. Okazaki Shrine

shrine

Okazaki Shrine, located in the Sakyo ward, was built to guard the royal palace and is known as Higashi Tenno because it guards the eastern direction (the direction of the Rabbit). The shrine is characterized by its association with rabbits, which serve as messengers of the deities.

Today, the shrine is revered for protecting the royal palace, driving away evil, and ensuring safe childbirth. The rows of rabbit omikuji (fortune-telling paper strips) are quite adorable, making it a popular spot for photography.

Okazaki Shrine
Address: 51 Higashitennocho, Okazaki, Sakyo ward, Kyoto
Official website: https://okazakijinja.jp/

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19. Mikami Shrine

shrine

Mikami Shrine in Arashiyama is said to be the only hair shrine in Japan. It is visited by many students from beauty schools, hairdressers, and people who care about their hair.

Mikami Shrine
Address: 10 Saga Ogurayama Dafuchiyama-cho, Ukyo ward, Kyoto
Official website: https://ja.kyoto.travel/tourism/single01.php?category_id=7&tourism_id=614 (Japanese)

20. Kawai Shrine

kawai shrine

Kawai Shrine, located within the grounds of Shimogamo Shrine, enshrines the goddess of beauty, Tamayorihime no Mikoto, who is believed to protect women in childbirth, child-rearing, forming relationships, and maintaining beauty.

One of its most famous features of this shrine is the ema (votive plaques) shaped like mirrors; visitors use their own makeup to depict their inner beauty on one side and write down their wishes on the other. The divine power of Kawai Shrine not only focuses on external beauty but also purifies and enhances inner beauty.

Kawai Shrine
Address: Shimogamo Izumigawa-cho 59, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City
Official website: https://www.shimogamo-jinja.or.jp/bireikigan/ (Japanese)

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Enjoy Visiting Shrines in Kyoto

The long and rich history of Kyoto has given rise to a diverse and vibrant culture of shrines. Apart from the 20 shrines selected by MATCHA's editors, there are many more unique and characteristic shrines hidden in the alleys and corners of Kyoto, waiting for everyone to come and visit!

Main image courtesy of Pixta

Written by

I used to live in Japan and managed to conquer 78 out of the 100 famous castles and 12 existing castle towers in 8 years. As a history enthusiast, I also have a passion for baseball and Japanese dramas, which have driven me to visit all 47 prefectures. I hope to convey not only the scenery of Japan but also more of its culture and way of life.

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