Pilgrimaging to sanctuaries of sports and travel
Ancient animistic beliefs say that there are eight million gods in Japan, where all elements of nature – mountains, forests, rocks – are worshipped. Some of those deities are worshipped for rather unique reasons, like sports and relationships. Go on a refreshing spiritual journey through these nature-rich temples and shrines, and make your wishes come true.
- 01 Morning walk at Higashiyama Sanjo
- 02 Chion-in Temple
- 03 Shimogamo Saryo
- 04 Shimogamo Shrine
- 05 Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa
- 06 Shiramine-jingu Shrine
- 07 Beer Pub Ichi-ya
From Kyoto Station: take the Subway Karasuma line to Karasuma Oike station, then transfer onto the Tozai line to Higashiyama Station (15 minutes)
01Morning walk at Higashiyama Sanjo
Mornings are the best time of the day to wander around the city while other tourists are still enjoying their breakfast. It’s interesting to catch a glimpse of locals performing their daily routines like cleaning and sprinkling water on the streets outside their houses. The picturesque Higashiyama Sanjo area is known for its retro shopping arcade and willow trees by the Shirakawa River. The quiet Awata Shrine that enshrines the god of travel is a perfect place to refresh your soul. Walking tours are held in this neighbourhood every Friday.
The Kyoto Community Exploration Tour
A professionally guided tour conducted by a certified guide (City of Kyoto Visitors Host) around the Higashiyama Sanjo area.
When: 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. every Friday
Price: 2,500 yen / person
The vast Chion-in temple is the headquarters of Jōdo Buddhism. Listed as a national treasure, the gigantic sanmon gate towering at the front entrance is hard to miss. After passing through this gate, the 51 stone steps leading to the main compound is known to have been a filming location for the Hollywood film The Last Samurai. In the precincts that stretch along the Higashiyama mountains, there is also a beautiful Japanese garden as well as a small shrine (Nuregami Daimyōjin) to pray for love and relationships.
Address: 400 Rinka-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Open: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. *Hours vary depending on the season
Admission fee: Hōjō Garden 400 yen / Yūzen’en Garden 300 yen (combination ticket 500 yen)
Take the Kyoto City bus #201 or 203 from the Chionin-mae bus stop to the Demachiyanagi-ekimae bus stop (15 minutes)
Treat yourself to an exquisite lunch at a 160-year-old Japanese restaurant that serves kyo-ryori, or the acclaimed Kyoto-style cuisine with its artistic approaches to cooking. Chefs in Kyoto are especially attuned to cooking with foods during their peak seasons. All their dishes include seasonal touches – through their refined culinary technique that brings out the true flavours of seasonal ingredients, and their sophisticated choice of tableware and presentation. Course meals during lunchtime range from 6,500 yen (plus tax). Indulge in an amazing culinary experience that lets you see, smell, and savour the autumnal harvest.
Address: 62 Shimogamo-miyagawa-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Open: 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (last orders at 1:30 p.m.), 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. (last orders at 8:00 p.m.)
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Shimogamo Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto. The long approach to the shrine is surrounded by a forest of over 120,000 square metres that serves as an oasis of calm for the locals. In fact, the horse-riding ground inside this forest is where a rugby ball was kicked for the first time in the Kansai region in 1910. And because the nearby Sawatasha (a small sub-shrine of Shimogamo) enshrines the god of ball sports, the Shimogamo Shrine is secretly known as a sacred place for rugby players.
Address: 59 Shimogamo-izumikawa-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Open: 6:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
05Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa
Walk right south of the Shimogamo Shrine, and you’ll find a country house built by the Mitsui family, one of Japan’s most prominent merchant families. The villa is currently registered as an Important Cultural Property in Japan. The extravagant interior décor and the view of the garden from the approximately 140-year-old main building are simply exceptional. Visitors have an option of enjoying matcha tea and wagashi sweets while gazing at fresh green moss and the gourd-shaped pond. Yoga classes with an amazing view of this garden will be offered in October.
Address: 58-2 Shimogamo-miyagawa-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Open: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (last entry by 4:30 p.m, café’s last orders at 4:00 p.m.)
Closed: Wednesday (the following day if it is a national holiday)
Admission Fee: adults 410 yen, junior high and high school students 300 yen, elementary school students 200 yen
Take the Kyoto City bus from the Demachiyanagi-ekimae bus stop to the Horikawa Imadegawa bus stop (10 minutes)
Shiramine-jingu is a shrine that has deep ties with sports. It was built on the site of a residence that belonged to the headmaster of kemari (a Japanese ball game where players compete on the number of times the leather ball is kicked up in the air) and has enshrined the god of ball games and sports since the ancient times. The precincts are full of different kinds of balls presented as offerings by professional athletes.
Address: 261 Asukai-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto
Open: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Take the Kyoto City bus from the Horikawa Imadegawa bus stop to the Shijo Kawaramachi bus stop (25 minutes)
07Beer Pub Ichi-ya
A sip of cold beer is always rewarding at the end of the day. Produced by the Ichijoji Brewery in Kyoto, this craft beer bar has 9 different kinds of beer on tap, including the internationally praised gold medal winner 'Destroy angel IPA', and uniquely flavoured beers that incorporate local yuzu citrus and ume plums. Try three of their craft beers with their trio tasting set (1,250 yen plus tax), and nibble at some tasty appetizers flavoured with locally made white miso paste and shibazuke pickles.
Address: 384 Funaya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Open: 11:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. (last call for drink orders at 10:30 p.m.)
Open all year round