Imamiya Shrine

Kyoto, Japan

Imamiya Shrine

Imamiya Shrine (今宮神社, Imamiya-jinja) is a Shinto shrine located in Kita-ku, Kyoto, Japan. It was originally established for patrons to pray for safety from an epidemic, though it has evolved into a shrine where patrons can pray for general good health. The shrine complex is embedded in a forest of large trees northwest of Daitoku-ji and includes many minor shrines in addition to the main shrine, or honden. On every second Sunday in April, one of the 3 major festivals in Kyoto, Yasurai Matsuri, is held at the shrine. The word imamiya (今宮) means "newly constructed."

Imamiya Shrine was founded during the Heian period in 994. In 1001, however, the shrine was moved to its present-day location as a response to an epidemic that had hit the Kyoto area a year earlier. Current iterations of many of the structures were rebuilt in 1902. The shrine's festival, Yasurai Matsuri, was also created as a response to the epidemic. Through music and dance, the festival attempts to appease petrels around Kyoto with cherry blossom petals in their beaks, which were then believed to be spreading disease.

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