July 1, 2013
by Maya Inoue & Chihiro Kitagawa
This shrine is a very small shrine, but there are a lot of people who come to pray for something here throughout the year. It is well known by people to offer benefits for “children recovering from illness “, “those who cry at night”, and “for help with studies”. As you can see, this shrine has many things for children, and is therefore also called “Mushihachiman”.
When you get off at Miyakehachiman station, you can see this stone monument. On the way to the shrine, there is beautiful nature all around you, too. It is really easy to find, so don’t worry about getting lost on the way!
From Demachiyanagi Keihan Station
<Hieizan electric railway>
→Get off Hachiman-mae stn : 2 minutes walk
→Get off Miyakehachiman stn.: 6 minutes walk
By Kyoto City Bus from Kyoto Station
→Get off Yawatamae stop : 1 minute walk
→Get off Miyakehachiman stop : 5 minutes walk
The simplest way to go here is to use public transportation.
By the way, have you ever heard of golden carp? There is a small pond in this shrine, and you can see lots of carp swimming in it. One of them is a beautiful gold color. If you are lucky, you might be able to see it!
It was a lovely, sunny day when I went, so many children and their parents were there. I asked one of the parents, “What is the charm of this place for you”? They answered,” this shrine is a safe place to walk with my child and there are beautiful colored leaves in autumn.” We agree with this!
After a few minutes walk, you can see this!
This is the entrance to the shrine. Once you pass under the gateway to the shrine, there is a tea stall on your left. Here, you can eat Hatomochi and take a rest. Hatomochi is the famous food of this shrine,and you can eat it only here. So if you have a chance to go there, please try eating it!
Before paying a visit to the actual shrine building to pray, you should find this. First, you need to wash your hands! This is the place to cleanse yourself with pure water.
As we researched this shrine, we noticed that there are a lot of objects and images connected to “pigeons”.
For example, on the shrine building fascia, a garden lantern, votive picture tablets (they are called ‘Ema’ in Japanese) and so on.
There are a lot of votive picture tablets to look at. All of the wishes on these were for children! Almost all of the charms are connected to children in some way, such as childbirth, protection from bad health, and so on.
We had some questions, so we asked a person who worked at this shrine. At first, we asked, “Why are there so many things connected with pigeons”? He answered that in this shrine, the meaning of the pigeon is as a messenger of the gods. There is a tradition in this shrine, on which the “dove of god” is bestowed. Pairs of doves (pigeons) came to earth to protect the growth and safety of children. The pigeons with the golden circle around their necks are male, and the ones without the golden circle are female.
We also asked why there are a lot of things connected with children. He answered that it is an historical connection. When the Emperor Meiji fell badly ill, this shrine was ordered to pray for his recovery. Thanks to this praying, he rapidly got over the illness. Since then, there has remained a strong connection between the Imperial Household and this shrine. In 1467, this shrine was burned down during the war called Ohnin no ran, but was rebuilt some years later by the village people. He also told us what events are held in this shrine. There are some special events throughout the year:
January - First visit of the year.
On New Year’s Day it is crowded with people from the local community. You can listen to the sound of the bells coming from this shrine, and commemorate the “years that have past”. Listening to the sound of the bells on New Year’s Eve, you can wish for health and prosperity for the “years to come”.
September – The Harvest Festival.
This is a festival held in autumn at MiyakeHachiman Shrine to give thanks for the rich harvest. “Yomiya” is on the 14th day and a ritual is held on the 15th day.
November – Shichi-Go-San (seven-five-three) Festival.
This shrine is famous for praying for children, so this festival is very important to this shrine. Families pray for children who have reached their 3rd, 5th or 7th birthday that year. The children usually visit the shrine with their family wearing brightly colored kimono and hakama.
Worship fee = free
Worship time = free
Parking area fee = 500 yen
* large-sized cars can not park here!