Jul. 25, 2018 UPDATE

A symphony of shrines and cuisine! Half-day itinerary around Shimogamo Shrine

Shimogamo Shrine is a place to meditate and relax, but you can also find some excellent restaurants around it, so here’s my Shimogamo Shrine itinerary for you all!
shimogamo shrine

Having a relaxing walk by the Kamo River is one of the best and most romantic parts of traveling to Kyoto. And Shimogamo Shrine close to Demachiyanagi Station is a spot where you can pray for good marriage luck, health, and longevity, and the shrine even has its own forest called Tadasu no Mori, which is a green oasis in the middle of Kyoto. So let me take you on a half-day trip to this shrine and the great restaurants around it!


1:00 p.m. Lunch at Epice!

Epice is a traditional French restaurant located in a machiya-style house with a beautiful Japanese inner garden, and the restaurant offers French dishes made by using only the freshest local ingredients. So not only does this restaurant offer a tasty fusion of France and Kyoto, but their food is also easy on the eyes and even healthy! 


Lunch is also a course here, meaning you get an appetizer, a main, and other dishes, which all have a strong taste, but you also, get to appreciate the taste of the ingredients. I have to tip my hat to the chef; the food here really manages to combine traditional French cuisine with Kyoto-influences well. 


Restaurant Epice

Shimogamo Shrine & Kitayama / Central Kyoto Area
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3:00 p.m. Time to pray at Shimogamo Shrine!

After having lunch, it’s time to walk to Shimogamo Shrine. To get to the shrine, you first have to walk through the vast primordial forest of Tadasu no Mori, which is sure to make you feel calm. Many of the small shrines here are for praying for good marriage luck, which is why you can see many young women and men praying at them. 


The most famous of these shrines may be this one, where you have a small shrine for every Chinese Zodiac there is. As the signs are only in Japanese, it might be a good idea to find out the Japanese characters for your Chinese Zodiac online before coming here. 


When you go to a shrine, you, of course, have to write your wishes on an ema, a votive wooden plaque. The ema here at Shimogamo Shrine have the Chinese Zodiac them, so unlike other shrines, you can write your wishes on your own zodiac. 


There are many smaller shrines on the precincts of Shimogamo Shrine. But amongst them, I would like to recommend Kawai Shrine which is a shrine enshrining the most beautiful goddess in Japan, and where you can pray to become more beautiful. 


The ema here are in the shape of hand mirrors, and you can draw the way you’d like to look on them, and maybe it will come true! These ema plaques are a very popular destination for young women. 


Shimogamo Shrine

Shimogamo Shrine & Kitayama / Central Kyoto Area
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4:00 Mochi so popular you have to line up for them at Demachi Futaba

It’s time for some Japanese-style afternoon tea!  After having a course meal for lunch, you may still feel a bit full, but I’m sure you’ll find some space in your tummy for a yummy mochi, Japanese rice cake! Demachi Futaba is one of the most well-known mochi places in Kyoto, and there’s always a line in front of it. 


They are most famous for their Myodai Mame-mochi that contain a lot of red bean paste surrounded by a thin layer of rice cake. As expected from their most famous product, the taste is refined, and the beans in the rice cake give it a nice texture. You can also buy them now, and have them later by the Kamo River. 


Demachi Futaba

Shimogamo Shrine & Kitayama / Central Kyoto Area
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4:30 p.m. The beautiful Kamo River! 

After buying some sweets, it’s time to head to the Kamo River and take a break! The Kamo River is one of the most loved spots for recreation for the people of Kyoto, and once you see the scenery around here, you’ll know why so many people visit the river every day to jog, or just to have a picnic and relax. 


You have to also see the island of the River Kamo Delta. This triangular island is a lot of fun, since you can get to it by using stepping stones, some of them shaped like turtles. This is a lot of fun for both adults and children! 


And by the Kamo River, you can also enjoy the mochi you just bought! If the weather is good, you can also enjoy the sunset here, and have a romantic moment at the unforgettable Kamo River. 


Kamo River

Downtown / Central Kyoto Area
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5:30 p.m. World-renowned latte art at Trentanove

Although it’s almost time for dinner, I’d still like to recommend this café called Trentanove, which is famous for its award-winning latte art. The skill of the baristas at this Italian restaurant is something you have to see! 


They also have a nice wine menu, so how about a glass as an aperitif! Drinking a glass of wine while you listen to the beautiful music playing in the restaurant; there’s nothing as relaxing as this! 


Trentanove

Downtown / Central Kyoto Area
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After a day at Shimogamo Shrine and Tadasu no Mori, you are sure to feel purified and have forgotten all your worries. The shrine and the Kamo River are an excellent place to feel close to nature in the middle of Kyoto. So, what do you feel about my itinerary?

Vanessa[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ] STAFF DETAIL
Shimogamo Shrine is really big, so you don’t have to worry about the crowds, and get to tour the shrine at your own pace. I think that by going to the shrine, the forest in front of it, and the river, you’ll get to really understand how much the people of Kyoto love this area. If you’re still feeling like doing some shopping, there are many trendy Japanese zakka shops if you walk north by the river!
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All Things To Do Temples & Shrines Scenery French Sweets Shimogamo Shrine & Kitayama
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