Kyoto Shrines: Kawai Shrine
Kawai Shrine 河合神社
Kawai Shrine, within the grounds of Shimogamo Shrine near Demachiyanagi Station, is a shrine with a particular appeal to women.
Women of all ages flock to Kawai Shrine to pray for beauty. Supplicants paint their ideal face on a vanity mirror-shaped ema votive plaque (kagami-ema) and hang it on a rack with their wishes for good looks.
Worshipers can also buy a glass of "beauty water" (bijinsui) made from quinces grown at the shrine, which are believed to be good for the complexion.
A power stone in front of the main hall is said to bestow beautiful skin if you stroke it and then touch your face.
Kamo no Chomei
Kawai Shrine also contains a reconstruction of the hut where the Kamakura Period author Kamo no Chomei (1153 or 1155-1216) is said to have composed his classic Hojoki (方丈記; An Account of a Ten-Foot-Square Hut).
Kamo no Chomei was a monk who renounced life in the then-capital Kyoto and lived his last years in simple huts in the Japanese countryside.
Another interesting mini-shrine is dedicated to Yatagarasu, a three-legged crow and helper to the legendary first emperor of Japan, Jimmu. Yatagarasu is now the symbol of the Japanese national soccer teams and players and teams come here to pray for sporting success.
Kawai Shrine Access
Tel: 075 781 0010
Admission is free.
Kawai Shrine is open 6.30am-7pm
Kawai Shrine is a five-minute walk from Demachiyanagi Station on the Keihan Line. The shrine is also close to Demachiyanagi bus stop for Kyoto buses #1, #4, #3, #17, #102, #201 or #203 and Aoibashi Nishidume bus stop for buses #1, #37 or #205.
Kawai Shrine is just to the west of the southern entrance of Shimogamo Shrine, close to the Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa, Kyoto Family Court and the little-visited Imura Art Museum with its collection of antique French glassware and Arita porcelain.