Nonomiya Shrine: Heian Love & Zen Tea
Nonomiya Shrine in Arashiyama, Kyoto is a small shrine associated with the purification of imperial princesses before becoming priestesses at Ise Shrine.
Nonomiya Shrine: Heian Love 野宮神社
One way to spend a memorable and leisurely day in Kyoto is to explore and ponder the truths behind Nonomiya Shrine in Saga. Nonomiya Shrine itself is little more than the usual perfunctory wooden structure which enshrines a local deity, but its history and connection with the Ise Grand Shrine give it a distinguished reputation. In the days of Hikaru Genji, the hero of the Heian romance The Tale of Genji, a daughter of the Emperor was chosen and installed as the High Virgin Priestess of the Ise Grand Shrine, the Vatican, or Mecca, of Japanese Shintoism. To prepare for this role, the chosen virgin spent a year of purification at Nonomiya Shrine. Entrance torii gate at Nonomiya Shrine; this unusual wooden torii (Kuroki) still has its bark
In The Tale of Genji, Lady Rokujo, Genji's long-neglected lover, has a daughter who is chosen for this sacred role, and Lady Rokujo accompanies her to Nonomiya Shrine. In the fall of the daughter's year of purification, Genji comes to Nonomiya Shrine, desiring to renew his affair with Lady Rokujo. Caught between her dignity as mother of the High Virgin Priestess, and the flames of rekindled passion, Lady Rokujo, swept away by the crashing waves of time and fate, sees herself as the pawn of heaven and earth. This moment is indelibly captured in Zeami's Noh play, Nonomiya. At its powerful climax Lady Rokujo stands frozen in mid-step as she debates whether or not to pass through the shine gate and into the arms of her scandalous lover. You probably won't feel this way at Nonomiya Shrine, but it is a great Noh play and wonderful story. Tale of Genji
Access - Getting There
Nonomiya Shrine Sagano Miyamachi 1 Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616-8393 The shrine is located near the picturesque river valley of Arashiyama. It is a five minute walk from Arashiyama Station on the Keifuku Line. The following buses also run to Arashiyama: 11, 28 and 93. The number 93 stops right outside the shrine at the Nonomiya stop. The bus runs from Kawaramachi Marutamachi and passes Marutamachi Station on the Kyoto subway, Senbon Marutamachi and JR Enmachi Station. In October every year the Saigu Gyoretsu Festival celebrates the tradition of Imperial princesses purifying themselves at the shrine. A procession of women in Heian Period costumes (some on foot others carried in palanquins) passes from the shrine to Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama. Here the women perform a purification ceremony (Gyokei-no-gi). The shrine enshrines deities associated with marriage and childbirth. As such it attracts many female supplicants who come to pray for success in finding a partner or giving birth (or both). Also within the shrine grounds is the "turtle rock' (kame-ishi) that supposedly grants one wish in a year if you touch it and make that wish. The shrine is a starting point for a walk around Arashiyama.