vol.87:Otoyo Shrine Must Be Visited in 2020

This year has almost ended and it’s time to welcome the new year, 2020.
A new year day is the most important holiday event in Japan.
It’s a traditional custom that most Japanese visit a temple on the new year’s eve and visit a shrine during the first three days of January.

Kyoto has a lot of shrines and temples so people are gathering especially during the first shrine visit of the year.
This time, we’ll introduce a great shrine you should visit for the first shrine visit.

Japanese Zodiac Visiting

There are twelve animal signs used as symbols for each year in Japanese Zodiac.
Some people do “Zodiac Visiting” to get blessed by visiting the shrine related to a zodiac symbols of the year.
Kyoto has all shrines related to zodiac symbols so many people all over Japan visit not only a main shrine but the shrine like that.

Otoyo Shrine must be visited in 2020

You can find Otoyo shrine while strolling the path of the philosophy.
It’s not well-known but it gets popular once every twelve years.
While it is common to stand Komainu, or guardian dogs who stand at the gates of shrines throughout Japan, Otoyo shrine has a pair of “Koma-nezumi”, or guardian rats.
There are only three spots to have that kinds of guardian statues; Osaka, Kanagawa and Kyoto.

The pair of guardian rats stand in front of shrine to dedicate to Okuninushi no mikoto who is one of the representative god in Japanese myth.
According to the myth, Okuninushi no mikoto fell in love with a daughter of Susanoo and he asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Then Susanoo set various trials before Okuninushi.
The last one was Susanoo ask him to bring an arrow in a field-fire.
Okuninushi no mikoto wasn’t able to get out but some mice rescued from the field.
Now they are considered the messenger of god.

One of the rats holds a scroll signifying scholarship and learning.

The other embraces a precious orb signifying good harvest and easy delivery.
Generally, handling these products are prohibited but these guardians are exception.
The prayers are allowed to put their hands on the scroll and the precious orb to get advantage.

What to See At Otoyo Shrine

The main deity of Otoyo shrine are Sukunahiko no mikoto, Sugawarano Michizane, and Emperor Ojin.
They are god of medicare, education, and victory.

Other guardian animals to be found at the shrine are a most unusual snake,hawk and monkey, which stand before the Atago and Hiyoshi subshrines.

People believe the snake is a deity of luck with money, though snake itself is an enemy of rats.

Mt. Hiei and the Hiyoshi shrine on it are associated with the monkey.
The monkey signify the symbol of things that protect people from evil spirits.

The Atago deity is believed to protect against fire disasters and is associated with the hawk.

Rat Oracle Sold at Otoyo Shrine

Some goods related with rats are sold at Otoyo shrine.
The important one is the rat shaped oracle.
There are some patterns of colors for them.

Three patterns of ink stamp written in calligraphy.


1,Shishigatani Miyanomae cho, Sakyo ku, Kyoto,606-8424
Open Hours:
5-minute walk from “Miyanomae” bus stop on the city bus at Kyoto station
10-minute walk from “Higahshi Tenno cho” bus stop on the city bus at Kyoto station
Admission Fee:


We’ll introduce you some other shrines or temples to do zodiac visiting in Kyoto.
Twelve animals has own their guardian god and deity.
Okuninushi no mikoto is a guardian god and Senju Kannon is a guardian deity for rat in Japanese zodiac.

In Kyoto, the following shrines worship Okuninushi no mikoto.
・Jishu Shrine (1-317,Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0862)
・Atago Shrine (1 Sagaatagocho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8458)
・Imamiya Shrine (21,Murasakino Imamiyacho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8243)

The following temples worship Senju Kannon.
・Kiyomizu Temple (1-294,,Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0862)
・Rengeoin Sanjusangendo (657 Sanjusangendomawari, Higashiyama ku, Kyoto, 605-0941)

The following shrine worship twelve animals of zodiac.
・Shimogamo Shrine (59,Shimogamo Izumikawacho, Sakyo ku, Kyoto,606-0807)
・Ogura Shrine (83,Toriimae, Enmyoji,Oyamazaki,Otokuni District, Kyoto,618-0091)
・Fushimiinari (68 Fukakusa Yabunouchi cho, Fushimi ku, Kyoto, 612-0805)

Do you need more information?

You should receive such local information of Kyoto by an application “KoI APP”.
With this application, even if you don’t have Wi-Fi, you can find nearby stores and so on.
You can install the application from the following URL.

Android app「KoI Service」

iPhone app「KoI Service」

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