Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Kyoto
Population
2,644,331

Otoyo Shrine

Matchmaking mice save the day.

Otoyo Shrine is easy to walk past but that would be a big mistake. With an unassuming entrance at the south end of the Philosopher’s Path, this hidden place of worship is the perfect detour to escape the crowds at the big-name shrines of Nanzen-ji and Ginkaku-ji Temple.

While Komainu statues, regal lion-dogs who stand guard at the gates of shrines and temples, are a familiar sight throughout Japan, Otoyo Shrine has an altogether different security detail.

Otoyo Shrine in Kyoto

Hidden along the Philospher’s Path, the shrine entrance is strewed with camellia flowers and a pair of weeping cherry and plum trees. Photo by Kimon Berlin.

Here, small yet mighty mice stand guard at the entryway

The pair of stone-carved guardians, often decorated with fresh camellias behind their ears, act as the gatekeepers of the shrine that is believed to house the god of matchmaking.

The ancient story goes that the god of marriage, Okuninushi, fell in love with a Princess in another world. But another god, Susanoo, became jealous and tried to trap Okuninushi in a fire. A plucky mouse helped him to escape and finally he and the Princess could marry. #relationshipgoals

Otoyo Shrine in Kyoto

You can spot lots of quirky statues at the shrine. Photo by Simon Davies.

Hopefully you’re love life isn’t quite so dramatic but you can still ask the mice for blessings in relationships, childbirth and child-rearing.

Notice how one mouse holds a scroll symbolic of academic learning, while the other hoists a big sake bottle said to represent fertility and longevity (obviously).

The animals are also joined by a quirky mix of Chinese Zodiac figurines (in addition to a curiously placed Mickey Mouse) playfully scattered throughout the grounds.

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How To Get There

Address

Shishigatani Miyanomaecho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8424, Japan

By bus

Take Kyoto City Bus 5 from JR Kyoto Station to Shinnyodo-mae bus stop (approx. a 35 minute bus ride). From Shinnyodo-mae bus stop, it’s approximately a 9 minute walk along the scenic Philosopher’s Path.

Where To Stay

Aoi Philosophers Path Villa
  • Sakyo-ku Kitanobocho Nanzenji 10 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 606-8446
  • 9.1/10
  • 0.2 km
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RokuRoku
  • Sakyo-ku Shishigatani Nishi Teranomaecho 28-1 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 606-8425
  • 8.9/10
  • 0.4 km
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Villa Honenin Nishi
  • Sakyo-ku Shishigatani Honenin Nishimachi 20 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 606-8427
  • 9.2/10
  • 0.5 km
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Guest House Aoi Nakamoto
  • Sakyo-ku Shishigatani Honenin Nishimachi 26 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 606-8427
  • 7.7/10
  • 0.5 km
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