Category Archives: Kansai

Seoritsuhime’s Inoue Sha and Tamayorihime’s Kawai Jinja, at Shimogamo Jinja

Shimogamo Jinja 下鴨神社 is one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto and the home of the famous May 15 festival, the Aoi Matsuri 葵祭, held since the 16th century. This World Heritage Site is very impressive and attractive. Shimogamo (Lower Kamo) is the sister shrine of Kamigamo (Upper Kamo). Shimogamo is situated in the Tadasau-no-mori, the last virgin forest in the city of Kyoto, between the two rivers that define Miyako.


Inoue Sha  井上 社, Mitarashi Sha

At Shimogamo Jinja, there is a pretty little shrine called Inoue Sha as well as Mitarashi Sha. The term inoue means over the spring. There is a spring at the back of the shrine. This is the spring which creates the Mitarashi stream which runs through Shimogamo. On this visit, October 2014, water was vigorously gushing out of the spring, yet the placid stream (in front of the shrine it is often called a pond) does not seem to be at a high level.

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The signboard states that the gosaishin is Seoritsu-hime no Mikoto. What it does not mention is that Seoritsuhime was the principal consort of Amateru and their progeny became the emperors of Japan. This is the misogi-place for the royal saiou. The alternate name, Mitarashi, refers to the misogi of a high-level person like a saiou or a priest.

Wikipedia:  A Saiō (斎王), also known as “Itsuki no Miko”(いつきのみこ), was an unmarried female relative of the Japanese emperor, sent to Ise to serve [as High Priestess] at Ise Grand Shrine from the late 7th century until the 14th century.

The Mitarashi festival takes place in July or August, and it is a time of purification and regeneration by wading in the pond in front of Inoue Sha. And of eating mitarashi dango. The mitarashi dango is a mochi treat in which small balls of mochi are placed on skewers and grilled with a sweet shoyu sauce. One of the seven wonders of Shimogamo (apparently many shrines and temples have seven wonders) is that the bubbles of the Inoue spring look like balls of mochi. I would think it is the reverse: the mitarashi dango created here was made of small balls of mochi that resembled the bubbles of the spring. Mitarashi dango are now popular everywhere.

Previously the shrine was located at the point of land where the two rivers, the Takano and the Kamo, meet to form the great Kamogawa which defines Kyoto from olden times until now. Such a place is well-known to be a power spot.

Kawai Jinja   河合神社 


There is another old shrine which was located on the power spot. The Kawai Jinja is now found near the southern end of the shrine grounds. The name kawai comes from the meeting of two rivers. The word 河合 can be deconstructed into its two parts, 河 kawa, river and  合 ai meeting. Put together, 河合 is the sacred meeting place of two rivers. This is a clue that Kawai Jinja may have been one of the founding shrines of the Shimogamo.


The deity of interest to me is Tamayorihime whose small shrine is shown here. Tamayorihime is the wife of sovereign Ugayafuki Awasezu. She was the mother of Jimmu Tenno, whose birth name was Takehito and who later took the name Kanyamato Ihawarehiko. [See Hotsuma Tsutae Aya 29.]

From Aya 27 we learn that Kamo Takezumi was the younger brother of Chief Consort Toyotama [consort to sovereign Hohodemi]. When it was time for Takezumi to marry, the princess Isoyori [daughter of Minister Komori] was chosen for him. The two were wed at the Kawai Palace and they resided there. Isoyori became the mother of Princess Tamayorihime.

The ruler Hohodemi and princess Toyotama lived happily in Miyazu and governed the land. Hohodemi’s heir was Ugayafuki Awasezu who was living in his palace at Wonifu. When Hohodemi gave over rule of the land to Ugaya, he presented the Mihata no Fumi scriptures to Ugaya. Toyotama presented the Yata no Kagami eight-sided mirror to Ame-no-Koyane, Lord Kasuga, Minister of the Mirror [Left]. The Yahegaki sword was delivered to Lord Komori Mihohiko, Minister of the Sword [Right]. These are known to us as the “Three Heavenly Treasures.” Hohodemi and Toyotama moved to Otsu and later died there.

Returning to Kamo Takezumi and Isoyori, they waited 13 years for a child and prayed to kami Wakeikazuchi (Ninikine). Their wish was granted when Princess Tamayori was born. When she was 14, both parents passed away and were deified at Kawai in Kyoto. Wise, gentle, and beautiful, Tamayorihime became the principal consort of Ugaya, and she gave birth to prince Takehito, Kanyamato Ihawarehiko, who became the first Emperor Jimmu.

The above story of Tamayorihime comes from Aya 27, as related at We learn quite a few things about Kyoto.

The Kamo clan is connected with the ruling family. The kami Wakeikazuchi [of Kamigamo Jinja] is Ninikine himself. The parents of Tamayorihime, Kamo Takezumi and Princess Isoyori, were married and later deified at Kawai. Tamayorihime was the mother of Jimmu Tenno, the first emperor of Japan.

From the official Shimogamo Jinja homepage: The creator and guardian of the city, Kamotaketsunomi-no-mikoto, is enshrined in the main sanctuary of the shrine, along his daughter Tamayorihime-no-mikoto, a mythical figure with her own repute.

Therefore, the two Kamo shrines in Kyoto are the family shrines of the Kamo Takezumi clan, and their ancestor is sovereign Ninikine, grandson of Amateru. And Tamayorihime was married and deified at Kawai, now Kawai Jinja.



Kifune Jinja

Kifune Jinja lies in the secluded Kibune Valley adjacent to Kuramayama, northern Kyoto. It is a shady, mysterious and ancient sacred site.

It is said that Tamayorihime who arrived by boat from Osaka Bay, founded the shrine in appreciation to the kami of water.


We take the Eizan densha and get off at Kibune station. We walk to the bus stop and find a fragrant kinmokusei sweet olive in glorious bloom. We get off at the beginning of the Kibune village. It is still a bit of a walk to get to the Kifune hongu main shrine. This shrine is rather new; the original shrine is deeper in the valley and is called Okunomiya. The map gives an idea of the relationship between the two shrines.


The walk through the village to Okunomiya is quite pleasant – though long. On this afternoon of the last day of September, the restaurants are preparing for their final evening of serving dinner out over the river. There is in the air anticipation of a ritual that marks the end of summer.


At last, we arrive at the torii marking the entrance to Okunomiya.


And here is the sign: Okunomiya!    It is truly an inner sanctum, an other-worldly sacred site.






Hiraoka Jinja

According to Mr. Takabatake of JTC,Izanagai received a stone tablet at Hiraoka Jinja. This ‘most important shrine in Kawachi Province’ is in the hills of Higashi Osaka, not far from Kinki University. Astronomy students took me by train. As soon as we got off, we heard the taiko. Aki matsuri was in progress! This shrine is dedicated to Amenokoyana and Fujiwara ancestors.

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