Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Shimogamo Shrine is a major shrine complex in Kyoto and a UNESCO World heritage site.
The proper name is Kamomioya Shrine, and Shimogamo means Lower Shrine as opposed to Kamigamo, Upper Shrine, another major shrine complex not far away.
Shimogamo is located where the kamo River and the Takano River meet and the shrine was founded probably in the sixth century, many centuries before Kyoto (Heiankyo) was founded.
It was founded by the Kamo family when they moved here from the Nara Basin to control the immigrant clans who had settled this area. Some believe the Kamo were themselves of Korean origin and they certainly have close links with the Hata clan who were certainly of non-Japanese origins.
The Kamo, and the Hata, both also have strong connections with Izumo. In Katsuragi, where the Kamo moved here from, is enshrined one of Okuninushi' sons, and this is generally interpreted to mean that the area was settled by people from Izumo, and it has been suggested that the Hata spent time in Izumo before moving to the Yamato area.
The shrine is located within all that remains of the Tadatsuno mori, and ancient forest, and many of the older trees have shimenawa around them. There are numerous sub-shrines within the grounds.
When Kyoto was founded the Kamo shrines were chosen to protect the palace from the NE, which is where evil was believed to come. With Imperial patronage the shrine grew to its current impressive size.
The shrine contains many examples of Edo Period architecture, including this bridge, the Taikobashi.
Shimogamo is also one of the sites of the famous Aoi matsuri.
The main kami enshrined here are Kamotaketsunumi and Tamayorihime Kamotaketsunumi is considered the founder of the Kamo clan. He is equated with Yatagarasu, the three-legged crow that guided the mythical first Emperor Jimmu to Yamato. One genealogy, in the Kogoshui I believe, has him being a descendant of Okuninushi, once again strengthening the connection to Izumo.
Tamayorihime was one of his daughters who "lay" with the Thunder God Honoikazuchi and gave birth to Wakeikazuchi who is enshrined at Kamigamo Shrine.