Kifune-jinja Shrine (貴船神社)

Kifune-jinja Shrine (also known as Kibune-jinja Shrine).

A Shinto shrine located in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City. Described in this article.

Also the name of shrines throughout Japan that have received the divided tutelary deity of the above shrine. Please refer to the Kifune-jinja Shrines for each area.

Kifune-jinja Shrine (Manazuru Town): A Shinto shrine located in Manazuru Town, Kanagawa Prefecture. Did not receive the divided tutelary deity from Kifune-jinja Shrine but was renamed from Kinomiya Daimyojin Shrine.

Kifune-jinja Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City. The Register of Deities of the Engishiki classifies it as a Shikinaisha (Myojin Taisha), it is one of the Twenty-Two Shrines, and it was ranked as a Kanpei Chusha under the old system of shrine classifications. It is the head shrine of the approximately 450 Kifune-jinja Shrines throughout Japan.


Kifune-jinja Shrine enshrines the water god Takaokami no Kami and, as one of the eighty-five ancient shrines of rainmaking rites, the deity has long been worshipped by those praying for rain. Since ancient times, a white horse has been offered to pray for fine weather and a black horse to pray for rain, but an image of a horse painted onto a wooden board may also be offered, which led to the creation of ema tablets.

He is also worshipped as the god of marriage so is popular with fortune tellers in novels and comics and draws many young couples and women. On the other hand, he is believed to be the god of separation and the god of curses and the shrine is famous for the practice of "Ushi No Koku Mairi" (placing a curse on someone by nailing a doll representing them to a tree between the hours of 1am and 3am).

Even within Kyoto, the vicinity of the shrine is particularly famous for its beautiful autumn leaves.


It is not known with certainty when the shrine was founded but, according to shrine legend, it was founded during the reign of Emperor Hanzei. The shrine legend also tells the shrine originated when Tamayoribime, the mother of Emperor Jinmu, sailed up the Yodo-gawa River, Kamo-gawa River (Yodo-gawa River system), and Kifune-gawa River where she disembarked at the site of the shine and enshrined the water god. It is believed that the shrine's name is derived from the word 'kifune' (lit. Yellow Boat) and it is said that the 'Mifunegata-ishi' pebbles in the precincts of the rear shrine cover the boat on which Tamayoribime no Mikoto arrived. It is also suggested that the name derives from the phrase 'Ki no umareru kigen' (lit. the source of life energy) being abbreviated to 'kibune'.

The oldest remodeling of a Shinto shrine main sanctuary is recorded to have taken place circa 666. The text Nihon Koki (Later Chronicle of Japan) records that the kami of Kifune-jinja Shrine appeared to FUJIWARA no Iseto, who was charged with the construction of To-ji Temple, in a dream and commanded him to establish Kurama-dera Temple in 796.

The Engishiki Jinmyocho (Register of Deities of the Engishiki) lists the shrine as 'Kifune-jinja Shrine in Atago County, Yamashiro Province' and classifies it as a Myojin Taisha. In addition, it is one of the Twenty-Two Shrines and was granted the rank of Shoichii (Senior First Rank) in 1140.

In July 1046, it was swept away in a flood and the main sanctuary was reconstructed on the current site of the main shrine in 1055 and the previous place of enshrinement was designated as the rear shrine. It had long been considered to be a sub-shrine of Kamo Wake Ikazuchi-jinja Shrine (Kamigamo-jinja Shrine) but some theories claim that the relocation of the main sanctuary in 1055 was the beginning of the shrine's rise to prominence. Objections to this rise had continued since the early modern period and the shrine finally became independent during after the Meiji period. The shrine also enshrined Kamo Wake Ikazuchi no Mikoto, the enshrined deity of Kamo Wake Ikazuchi-jinja Shrine, until the Edo period.


The main sanctuary is divided between the Motomiya (main shrine), Yui no yashiro or Nakamiya (middle shrine) and Okumiya (rear shrine).

Motomiya (Main Shrine)

The Motomiya enshrines Takaokami no kami. The Honden (main hall) and Haiden (worship hall) were recently restored in 2007. The shrine office is located within the main shrine.

Okumiya (Rear Shrine)

The Okumiya is located 700 meters upstream from the Motomiya on what was previously the site of the Motomiya. It enshrines Kuraokami no kami but is it is believed to be the same deity as Takaokami no kami.

Yui no Yashiro (Middle Shrine)

The Yui no Yashiro is located between the Motomiya and Okumiya, approximately 300 meters upstream from the Okumiya. It is from this position that it gets the name "Nakamiya" (lit. middle shrine).

It enshrines Iwanagahime, who is worshipped as the god of marriage. The following legend describes how Iwanagahime no Mikoto came to be regarded as the god of marriage. When Ninigi, grandson of Amaterasu, asked for permission to marry Konohana no Sakuyabime, the daughter of Konohana no Sakuyabime, her father, Oyamatsumi, granted him both her and her sister Iwanagahime no Mikoto. However, Ninigi no Mikoto married only Konohana no Sakuyabime, and the ashamed Iwanagahime no Mikoto said 'I will grant people their ideal match as the god of marriage' and was enshrined on the site of Kifune-jinja Shrine.

Previously, people would tie together the long thin blades of grass in the shrine precincts and pray for their ideal partner but plant protection measures have meant that people now write their prayer on a 'Musubi-bumi' provided by the main shrine and tie it to a designated place. A natural stone in the shape of a boat and known as 'Ama no Iwabune' that was dedicated to the temple in 1996 as 'Goryobune of Iwanagahime no Mikoto' is placed in the precincts. There is also a monument on which the poem by Izumi Shikibu written below is inscribed.


Kifune-jinja Shrine has appeared in literature since ancient times.

Izumi Shikibu

A poem written by Izumi Shikibu when he visited Kifune-jinja Shrine is included in Goshui Wakashu (Later Collection of Gleanings of Japanese Poems). When she was forgotten by her husband (FUJIWARA no Yasumasa), she visited Kifune-jinja Shrine where she watched the fireflies flying around the Mitarashi-gawa River and composed a poem:'Mono omohebasawa no hotaru mowagami yoriakugare idurutama ka to zo miru(So lost in thought,even the fireflies in the valley,seem like my spirit,escaped from my body,and wandering about). Also included in Goshui Wakashu is the poem with which Kifune Myojin kami is said to have replied to her:'Okuyama nitagirite otsurutakitsu se notama chiru bakarimono na omohiso'(Deep in the mountains,in the shallows of the waterfall,rushing down,the spirit-waterdrops shatter and splash,do not be so lost in thought).

The "Shasekishu" (Sand and Pebbles) collection of Buddhist parables gives a detailed description of the temple at this time.
Izumi Shikibu had the shrine maiden conduct a matchmaking ceremony but the shrine maiden tried to force her to roll up the hem of her kimono and expose her genitalia
Izumi Shikibu refused, but FUJIWARA no Yasumasa saw this from an unseen location within the shrine and was so impressed with her attitude that they became happily married.


Kibuneguchi Station on the Kurama Line of the Eizan Electric Railway.

From the Vernal Equinox Holiday to the last Sunday in November, Kyoto Bus operates a route from Kibuneguchi Station to the Kibune bus stop in the very south of the Kifune area. The bus journey takes four minutes followed by a five minute walk after alighting. This journey takes 30 minutes at other times of the year. A bus is also operated during the hatsumode (first shrine visit of the New Year) period at the beginning of the year.


Along with Kurama-dera Temple, Kifune-jinja Shrine is a popular excursion stop as a sightseeing spot which enables visitors to experience the time of MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune and Benkei. Kurama-dera Temple's Nishimon (western gate) (Kibuneguchi) faces the Kifune-gawa River but the mountain path to the temple's main halls means that visitors must be prepared to hike. In this case, the route from Kurama Station to Kifune via Kurama-dera Temple is more popular.

Other Kifune-jijna Shrines

There are approximately 450 shrines throughout Japan named 'Kifine-jinja Shrine' (including those written using alternative characters) which have received the divided tutelary deity of the head shrine in Sakyo Ward. Additionally, there are over 2000 shrines that incorporate the 'okami' of the enshrined deity's name into the shrine name (Takaokami-jinja Shrine, Okami-jinja Shrine, Kuraokami-jinja Shrine, etc.).

Kifune-jinja Shrine (Midori City, Gunma Prefecture)

Kifune-jinja Shrine (Iwata City, Shizuoka Prefecture)

Kifune-jinja Shrine (Amagasaki City, Hyogo Prefecture)

Kifune-jija Shrine (Tsuyama City, Okayama Prefecture)

Kifune-jinja Shrine (Unnan City, Shimane Prefecture)

Kifune-jinja Shrine (Shunan City, Yamaguchi Prefecture)

[Original Japanese]