Kyoto, Japan

下鴨神社 (京都府京都市左京区下鴨泉川町)

The formal name for this shrine is “Komomioya-Jinja / 賀茂御祖神社”. Amongst the shrines in Kyoto, this one is considered one of the oldest.

It is a Shinto shrine, and it was built for the creator/guardian deity, Kamotaketsunomi-no-mikoto / 賀茂建角身命 and his daughter, Tamayorihime-no-mikoto / 玉依媛命. The history of this shrine may go back for at least 2000 years. It is considered as one of the oldest Shinto shines, and in 1994, UNESCO has designated it as the World Cultural Heritage Site.

The legend says that the origin of this shrine has to do with the fact that one day during the reign of Emperor Jinmu (神武天皇), the spirit of Kami had descended onto Mikage mountain (御蔭山). Since there is also a record of the restoration of a special fence (瑞垣) in 90 B.C. during the reign of Emperor Sujin (崇神天皇), some say that the shrine may have been built around this time.

It is one of the Shinto spirituality to believe that everything in nature has its Kami, sort of a divine spirit, dwelling within. The shrines were built on and/or near the sacred sites as a reminder that the nature itself is sacred and awe inspiring. We can say with confidence that any occurrence in nature is natural. Even the leaves eaten by the worms and insects is the way of life. When we are able to accept the dance of the nature, we can begin to appreciate its natural beauty in everything.