Shimogamo Shrine is located in the northern part of Kyoto City, in a quiet residential neighborhood. Even though it is only about a 10 minute walk away from the Demachiyanagi Station on the Keihan Electric Railway Line, there is an ancient primeval forest within the shrine grounds. The official name of the shrine is the 'Kamo-mioya Shrine,' but, as it is located in the lower reaches of the Kamogawa River, it is affectionately known to the locals as the Shimogamo Shrine ("shimo" means "lower" in Japanese).
A historical reference exists noting that there was a fence built at the shrine site in the year 2 BC and it is thought that the shrine actually existed in an older age. An excavation study conducted last year in the Tadasu-no-mori forest near the shrine revealed a large number of residential remains and unglazed earthenware, providing support for this hypothesis. As expected for a shrine with a history like this, the shrine has long been regarded as the foremost shrine dedicated to the guardian deity of Kyoto.
In 794 AD, when the capital was transferred to Kyoto, the Emperor Kanmu first visited the shrine and prayed for success. Since that time, the relationship between the shrine and the following emperors has deepened.
The shrine is dedicated to the local Shinto deities believed to have created Kyoto, Kamotaketsunumi-no-mikoto and Tamayorihime-no-mikoto, the deities of good family lines and child rearing. Since Shimogamo Shrine is where the emperor prays for peace for the citizens of Japan and world peace, the shrine has a large following among the citizens of Kyoto who believe the guardian deity of Kyoto is enshrined within its walls, providing protection against evils, ensuring good family relationships, easy delivery during the birth of children, good child rearing, and safety during transportation.
The shrine has east and west sanctuaries, both of which have been specified as national treasures, and all 53 buildings of the shrine have been specified as important cultural properties. Furthermore, as the shrine also contains the ancient primeval forest Tadasu-no-mori, with its many ancient remains, Shimogamo Shrine was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Property in 1994.