Beautiful fresh green leaves accentuate the Kifune Shrine during the spring. This shrine is one of the must-visit sites of the season in the Kurama/Kifune area in Kyoto!
Hello friends! I’m KOKORO MOYOU. I live in Kyoto and love sharing the latest information about the city.
In this article, I will introduce the Kifune Shrine which is built around worshipping the god of water. I visited the shrine in the spring, so I truly enjoyed the way the shrine was surrounded by fresh and crisp hues of green!
What Is Kifune Shrine?
Kifune Shrine is in the district called the Kurama/Kifune area which is surrounded by rivers and mountains. It’s very popular and scenic. The shrine is located far from the station, so you need to take a train, then switch to a bus. In total, it takes about an hour or two...it isn’t easy to visit the shrine, but it’s surrounded by beautiful nature and is much more quiet than other popular touristy sites.
As I mentioned above, the Kifune Shrine worships the god of water. People come and pray for rain, for safe travel by sea, and for success with Sake brewing, etc (all related to water). Also, the famous Japanese poet Izumi Shikibu (she was actively writing poetry in 9th century) visited the shrine, prayed for her marriage to be restored, and her wish came true, so the shrine is also famous for bringing romance!
There’s no defined date when the shrine was built, but the oldest known documentation says the shrine was rebuilt in 666, so Kifune Shrine must have a long history,
Walk Around The Grounds
This red Torii Gate gets your attention right after you debark at the Kifune-guchi bus stop.
Torii gate, a huge cedar, and cypress all welcome you!
This view must be the most famous in the shrine. Stone stairways and red lanterns.
When you get to the top, you will see the main building.
Have you seen Ema in Japanese shrines? Ema is unique to Shinto culture; in Japanese shrines, paper will hang outside on which you write your wish. Kifune Shrine is considered the first shrine to have Ema.
This is called Gojinzui (the water of the gods in Japanese). Gojinzui in general comes from any sacred place, but since this shrine focuses on the god of water, people believe Gojinzui brings better luck than the Gojinzui from other shrines. You can purchase this water at the shrine’s gift shop.
There is a stone garden on the premises.
This is the shrine’s sacred tree; an enormous Japanese Judas tree.
The white paper around the tree is called Kamide, which designates it as a sacred area.
This huge rock is called Tsutsumigaiwa.
This is the path to the other buildings on the premises. Beautiful lanterns are on display here as well.
This building is called Yuino Yashiro (also known as Nakamiya).
The picture below is called Okumiya. When I visited in April 2012, it was under construction, but it has since been completed!
This is the Kibune River.
The picture below is called Eboshi Iwa. Eboshi is a hat that ancient noble people wore during the Heian era. The rock looks like an Eboshi, while Iwa means “rock” in Japanese. In time, the rock came to be known as Eboshi Iwa.
This rock is called Hotaru Iwa. Hotaru means a firefly. Izumi Shikibu adored the fireflies found here and crafted her poetry around them.
There’s so much to see at the shrine!
Fresh and tender green and red Torii and lanterns mesh together beautifully! If you stay in Kyoto for couple of days or more, I recommend you to take the time to see the Kurama/Kifune area, too! It is definitely worth a visit!