Kyoto Shrines 京都の神社
Kyoto has nearly a thousand Shinto shrines scattered around the city, ranging from tiny neighborhood shrines to such large and important shrines as Fushimi Inari, Heian Jingu, Imamiya Shrine, Yasaka Jinja, Shimagamo Shrine, Kamigamo Shrine and Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine.
Shintoism pre-dates Buddhism in Japan and some of Kyoto's shrines are among the oldest religious sites in the city, even pre-dating the founding of the city in 794.
You know you are entering a shrine when you pass through a wooden vermillion shrine gate called a torii, or nowadays often a gray concrete version.
All major shrines in Kyoto host an annual festival when the shrine's kami (gods) are paraded around the streets in colorful omikoshi.
Aoi Matsuri in May is one such large-scale (sedate) parade as is the more important Gion Matsuri in July, but many, smaller shrine festivals take place throughout the year often accompanied by raucous, sake-fuelled participants.
Important annual festivals connected with many shrines include Shichi-go-san, Setsubun in February and New Year (oshogatsu).
Fushimi Inari Shrine - known for its thousands of vermillion torii gates stretching for miles over the hillsides of south eastern Kyoto.
Gokoku Shrine - honors the men and women who died to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate in the 1850's & 1860's.
Go'o Shrine - is located to the west of the Imperial Palace and is associated with wild boars.
Goryo Shrine - dedicated to the protection of the ancient capital.
Heian Shrine - the city's set-piece shrine in the Okazaki district of central Kyoto.
Hirano Shrine - known for its lovely cherry blossom in spring.
Imamiya Shrine - this large shrine near Daitokuji Temple is dedicated to the kami of good health, longevity and match-making.
Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu Shrine - is dedicated to Hachiman, the God of War and has an interesting connection with Thomas Edison.
Kamigamo Shrine - World Heritage Site - one of Kyoto's most ancient sacred sites.
Kawai Shrine - within the grounds of Shimogamo Shrine, is popular with women who come to pray for beauty.
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine - try to visit for the monthly flea market held on the 25th of each month.
Kumano Shrine - founded in the 9th century by Nichiren.
Matsuo Taisha Shrine - a shrine held in reverence by Kyoto sake brewers.
Miyake Hachimangu - the deity of this shrine in Iwakura is believed to cure "peevish" children or those stricken by convulsions.
Nashinoki Shrine - east of the Gosho and known for its clear water spring.
Oharano Shrine - is a large shrine, south west of Kyoto city associated with the Fujiwara clan.
Okazaki Shrine - is connected with child-bearing and fertility. The main motif of the shrine is the rabbit.
Shimogamo Shrine - World Heritage Site - the sister shrine of Kamigamo Shrine to the north.
Shiramine Shrine is associated with the game of kemari and popular with soccer players of all levels.
Sugawarain Tenmangu Shrine is supposedly the birthplace and former residence of Michizane Sugawara, the Heian Period courtier and patron of learning in Japan.
Ujigami Shrine in Uji has the oldest known shrine building in Japan dating to the Heian Period.
Waratenjin - associated with safe pregnancy and child-birth.
Yasaka Shrine - the host shrine of Gion matsuri and with long association with the area's geisha.Yasui Konpira Shrine - Gion shrine known for its power stone to end or initiate relationships.
Yoshida Shrine - located on a hill near Kyoto University and famous for its Setsubun bonfire and festival.
Yuki Shrine (Kurama) - the host shrine of the Kurama Fire Festival in October.
Images of Japanese Shrines - see a series of images of Kyoto's shrines.
Map of Kyoto's temples and shrines - locate Kyoto's shrines and temples on an interactive map.
Books on Kyoto Shrines
Two of Diane Durston's books on Kyoto make for a great introduction to the city's shrines: Old Kyoto and Kyoto: Seven Paths to the Heart of the City.
Also recommended are Seeing Kyoto by Juliet Winter Carpenter, A Year in the Life of a Shinto Shrine by John K. Nelson, A New History of Shinto by John Breen and for the historical background to the sights Kyoto: A Cultural History by John Dougill.
Kyoto Temples & Shrines Map
View Kyoto Temples & Shrines Map in a larger map