Wander through the 1,000 year life of Kamigamo-Jinjya Shinto Shrine.
Being born and raised in Japan, shrines and temples appear in every juncture of your life. From the first prayer of the year, “hatsumode,” to praying for success in academics and business ventures to making vows to your loved one in the traditional Japanese wedding. We bring our prayers to the gods, hoping they will hear us.
People in Japan once referred to their country as “the country of 8 million gods”. Those who are enshrined in these temples include gods that hold a special power over things like natural phenomenons or humans who have left behind incredible achievements and success.
Some examples of prominent gods in Japanese culture are Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, or Hinokagutsuchi, the Fire God, both gods who control the natural elements. Some gods are known for great achievements from a former life like the god of academics, Sugawara no Michizane, and the god of war Ojin Tennō.
There are millions of other gods that control water and agriculture, mountains and rocks, trees and the coming and going of the seasons. Within these gods there are gods that not only wish good for people but also wish harm. To the ancestors of modern day Japan, there wasn’t a life that could exist without the gods.
The blessings that people pray for are different for each god. Some people come to pray for plentiful harvest, thriving business, conception of children, marriage, academic success, or safety while traveling. And those are just a few of the possible blessings once can receive.
So, what are the blessings waiting for you here at Kamigamo Shrine? There are some blessings you may be familiar with such as charms for warding off evil (yakuyoke), bringing good fortune
(kai’un), and assuring certain victory (hisshō). However, there are some charms here that are strange even for Japanese visitors, such as a charm for protection from thunder (raijo) or to protect those working in the electricity industry (denki seisan shugo). The reasoning behind this is said to lie in the enshrined deity, Kamo Wake-Ikadzuchi-no-Ōkami.
Kamigamo-Jinjya Shinto Shrine is said to be the oldest shrine in Japan, and was built in the year 678. This guide covers 2600 years of history and explores how humans have come to interact with the Japanese gods.
We will begin this guide by explaining the god enshrined here in this temple, Kamo Wake-Ikadzuchi-no-Ōkami.