Three Things You Shouldn’t Miss at Kifune Shrine in Kyoto

Are you planning to visit Kifune Shrine in Kyoto? Just interested in the marvelous scenery of the stairs?

Today, we guide you to this Kifune Shrine with Tamaki Suzuki, a priest of Kifune Shrine. Please refer to this perfect guide on your next trip to Kyoto!

The attractions of Kifune shrine

There are three locations in Kifune Shrine.

Honguu (The main hall), Yui-no-yashiro, and Okumiya.

You should especially check those three below.

  1. The beautiful scenery of stairs at the entrance
  2. The twin Japanese cedars and Yui-no-yashiro
  3. The legendary 1600-year-old Okumiya

First, learn the brief history of Kifune Shrine

A Japanese myth says that Tamayorihime-no-Mikoto, the first emperor’s mother rode a yellow boat seeking for the origin of water of Osaka Bay. It was at least more than around 1600 years ago. And the place she found as the origin of water was the Okumiya, main hall at that time. Because of its origins, Kifune Shrine’s deity represents water. The Okumiya was seriously damaged by natural disasters in 11C and was moved to the current main hall.

The Guide of Kifune Shrine

Kifune Shrine is located on a mountain area of northern Kyoto city. There are lots of attractions found at the shrine, like the cool climate in summer, the scenery of nature…, but we’ll introduce three especially interesting sightseeing points of Kifune Shrine.

1. The beautiful scenery of stairs at the entrance

The most famous scenery of Kifune Shrine are the stairs at the entrance of the main hall.

It takes around 30-minutes by foot from “Kifune-guchi” bus stop to the entrance. You’ll see the relaxing natural surroundings during the walk. If you want to take the fastest way to get there, take a bus further to “Kifune” bus stop. It’s just a 5-minute walk from the bus stop.

The atmosphere around the main hall is special. Tamaki says, “You can enjoy the Kifune Shrine’s atmosphere via google these days, but I’d like you to visit and see the scenery with your own eyes.”

He thinks that “When you experience it, the fact becomes the truth.” In other words, his personal philosophy says, “Come to Kifune Shrine after reading this article” 😉

By the way, you can have a unique oracle experience at Kifune Shrine. It’s called “Mizuura-Mikuji,” the water oracle. You can see nothing on the paper at first, but when you soak it into the water, you will see the texts.

What are these red lanterns?

These red lanterns are proof of someone’s faith. There are companies’ or individual’s names written on each poll. When they donate to Kifune Shrine, the lantern is built as the proof of donation.

※We cannot build it any more.

2. The twin Japanese cedars and Yui-no-yashiro

After visiting the main hall, let’s get to Yui-no-yashiro. “Yui” (結) means literally matchmaking and connection making. So, it is said that it’s good for those who wish to find the best partner to visit the Yui-no-yashiro. The deity lets you find not only the best partner for love, but also the best business partner.

First, get a green paper sheet at the main hall. After writing your wish, visit the Yui-no-yashiro.

Then, tie the sheet in front of the deity. Don’t forget to throw coins to the deity!

Why is it good for finding partners?

The myth says Iwanagahimeno-mikoto, the deity of Yui-no-yashiro, missed the opportunity to get married though her younger sister had a happy marriage. Then, she pledged to give the best relationships to people.

Near Yui-no-yashiro, you can see Aioi-no-Sugi, the coexistent cedar. It looks like an ordinary tree from the road, but it’s not. It is one tree at the root, but it becomes separated into two trees in the middle. Maybe, this strange shape will also give you good fortune in finding a partner.

Aioi-no-Sugi, the coexistent cedar

Tamaki mentions that he’d like visitors to learn a bit about Kifune Shrine in advance. “It’s not just a sightseeing spot, but a place where the deities lie. It has its own deity and history.”

You don’t have to believe Shinto religion, but we can understand it is important to respect a religious space, right?

3. The legendary 1600-year-old Okumiya

The final spot is Okumiya, the original main hall. A brief history was already mentioned above, but there are other sightseeing points.

The first one is Renri-no-Sugi, the Now and Forever cedar. A cedar tree is tied together with a maple tree and they live united together. It is a so rare case that different trees live united together that people say it is a good sign like Aioi-no-Sugi, for finding the best partner.

Renri-no-Sugi, the Now and Forever cedar

The second one is Funagata-Ishi, the boat-shaped rock. It looks just like a pile of rocks, but it is said that the boat told of in the myth is hidden inside the rocks.

As you learned in the history described above, Tamayorihime-no-Mikoto rode a boat to seek the origin of the water. The myth says that it is hidden under the shrine. The truth is not apparent, but “we can see one thing at least,” Tamaki says.

“When we visit here, we reflect on the water.” He also says, “Then, we thank the water. The opposition of gratefulness is commonplace.”

Yes, and it is important for us to remember how our ordinary life is actually special. Kifune Shrine gives you the opportunity to do it.

How was the trip?

Thanks to the rain when we visited Kifune Shrine, it was full of mysterious and sacred atmosphere. Not only the actual spot, but also the path to the shrine was attractive.

It is in the mountain area as we mentioned at the beginning, so we’ll get the chance to explore the region a bit though it’s just about a one-hour trip from Kyoto station.

The most popular season for Kifune Shrine is fall, but Tamaki recommends early summer. What do you think about visiting Kifune Shrine for your summer escape?


Name: Kifune Shrine (貴船神社)
Address: Kurama-Kifune-machi180, Sakyo-ku district, Kyoto city, 601-1112
Opening hour: 06:00 a.m. – 08:00 p.m.
(06:00 a.m. – 06:00 p.m. from December 1 – April 30)
Fee: Free
1. Get off at Kokusai-kaikan station on the subway Karasuma line

2. Get on the Kyoto bus No.52 (heading to Kurama onsen)

3. Get off at Kifune-guchi bus stop

4-a. 30-minute-walk to Kifune Shrine
4-b. Get on the Kyoto bus No.33 (heading to Kifune)

5-b. Get off at Kifune bus stop.

6-b. 5-minute-walk to Kifune Shrine