Mikami-Jinja Shrine

#arashiyama #mikamijinjya

The Hair's God Shrine

Six years ago I visited Japan for my first time. I already had planned everything before coming to Kyoto, so of course Arashiyama was on my agenda. Everything was new and magical, especially when I stepped in Arashiyama Bamboo Grove for the very first time. All the magic around this place was unique, but it was when I was taking a break when I saw it. A small Sanctuary hidden in the woods.
The path that leaded to the Sanctuary was decorated by Japanese traditional banners with Japanese symbols on them. At that time I could not understand them. Now I can tell you what it was written : Mikami-Jinja, The Hair Sanctuary.

Mikami-Jinja in a Japanese banner

I started walking towards it without any clue of what that Sanctuary was for, while I was enjoying the view of a small calm pond. Once I got close to the area of the Sanctuary, I could see an old man sitting on the bench right in front of the Sanctuary feeding two cats with a kind of Obento (Japanese box lunch) made especially for those cats. I can say he had the best view of the sanctuary from that bench.
It was a very small Sanctuary, so as I entered inside I could see the small wooden plaques that thanks to the people that wrote on them It helped me to understand that it was a Shrine devoted to the Hair's God. It was made for people who wanted to get back their hair, or simply to not lose anymore. But over time, the meaning has become more general and students who want to become hairdressers, to wish them luck in their exams. You can see professional hairdressers praying for giving their costumers a good hair style. Even we can find some businessman in the cosmetic business praying for good sales. Once I finish looking around the Sanctuary, I prayed for my own hair, pet one of the cats and went back to the main route.

After six years, I came back again to Arashiyama. This time I was guiding one japanese friend around the west part of Kyoto. Of course I couldn't miss this chance of comming back to my favourite mountain. Once I got to Mikami-Jinja I noticed, to my surprise, that the same old man and the same couple of cats were there, on the same bench. It was amazing, of course the cats became a little fatter but they still kept all the fur. That means that the Hair's God takes good care of all of us. So we can keep our beautiful hair, right?for the station.

Photo & Report: Javier Azana