Kyoto Shrines: Matsunoo, Tsukiyomi, Kaiko no Yashiro, Umenomiya

There are many notable shrines in Kyoto. Matsunoo Taisha is well known, but the Tsukiyomi Jinja next door is not. There is an interesting shrine which is popularly known as Kaiko no Yashiro, Shrine of Silkworms. And a shrine for sake brewers. Let’s visit them.

Matsunoo Taisha (Matsuo Taisha) 松尾大社


This is the entrance to Matsunoo Taisha with Mt Matsunoo behind it. There are marvelous iwakura megaliths on the mountain top, but the megaliths are hard to get to. In the center of the grounds is the kagura pavilion.

The enshrined deity is Oyamakui no Kami, kami of large mountains and kami of sake brewing. Also enshrined is Nakatsushima-hime (Ichikishima-hime), guardian of travelers. There is a sakaya on the premises.


A stream flows through the precincts, crossed by a number of bridges beneath shady trees. Matsunoo is lovely through all seasons of the year.

Tsukiyomi Jinja  月読神社

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Adjacent is the small shrine of Tsukiyomi, mythological kami of the moon月. This is a charming shrine in a small grove of trees. This shrine is associated with the Tsukiyomi main shrine on the island of Iki in Nagasaki-ken, Kyushu. Although Tsukiyomi is not a popular kami (he gets short shrift by the chronicles), it seems that his time is coming. Although a male kami, he is nonetheless the representative of the moon and feminine qualities of gentleness and calm.

Kaiko no Yashiro 蚕之社 (Konoshima Jinja)

This mysterious shrine bears the formal name Konoshima Amateru Mitama Jinja. It is a shrine to the silkworm, kaiko 蚕, thus its popular name, Kaiko no Yashiro. It is said to be a shrine of the Hata clan of 8th century Kyoto, descendants of the Qin dynasty in China, who brought sericulture to Japan. Although there is no priest on-site, many people come to see the unusual three-pillared torii, said to represent the Trinity of Christianity. The torii stands in a pond which has not been filled for a long period of time.

Making the shrine even more mysterious, a signboard states that the enshrined kami are Amenominakanushi, Ookunitama, Hohodemi, and Ugayafukiaezu. This is an unusual assortment of kami beginning with the original nonphysical ancestor-kami and ending with two probably historical figures. This shrine is more ancient than it is documented to be.

Umenomiya Taisha  梅宮大社(うめのみやたいしゃ)

This shrine of plums 梅 was first built in the 8th century by Agata-no-inukai-no-mikchiyo to enshrine her ancestors. The final move to Ukyouku in Kyoto was ordered by Tachibana-no-Kachiko, consort of Emperor Saga, 786-850.

The deities are Oyamazumi-no-mikoto, his daughter Konohana-no-sakuyahime-no-mikoto, her spouse Ninigi-no-mikoto, and their son Hikohohodemi-no-mikoto. Oyamazumi is also known as Sakatoke-no-kami, for brewing sake for Konohana when she gave birth to Hikohohodemi. Thus this shrine is popular to sake brewers. Notice all the barrels of sake? These are actually kazaridaru, empty of sake but full of spiritual significance. Read about  kazaridaru  here,


The grounds are said to be very beautiful, but we did not have time to visit the gardens. We did notice the splendid display of fragrant sweet olive known as kin-mokusei (Osmanthus fragrans) which perfumes the autumn air in Kyoto. 





At the Shrine of Plums

the fragrance of autumn is

golden sweet olive

On the way to the car, we stopped to pay our respects at the small 西梅津神明社 shrine to Amaterasu and Toyoke-kami.