Shimogamo and Kamigamo Shrines are dedicated to kami of the Kamo River, or so I understand. So appropriately Shimogamo Shrine has a stream running through the middle of its grounds. Each year in July, the shrine has a festival in which people wade through the stream, light a candle, drink pure Shimogamo stream water, and pray to the kami Mitarashi for good health in the coming year. My knees are in bad, bad shape, so why not give it a try? Besides, walking through a stream by candlelight at night sounds really fun!
First, remove your shoes under a pavilion (you are provided with a handy bag to carry them–this is Japan!).
Then walk down a purpose-built ramp that descends into the stream under a bridge lit by lanterns.
Now you’re ready to wade in the stream and light your candle…
It’s a very beautiful event. The streambed is paved with cobblestones, which make it very easy and comfortable to walk in it.
After you finish, you put your shoes back on in another pavilion. Then you can have a drink of pure stream water from the stream. Maybe it has some health benefits…
It’s highly recommended if you are in Kyoto in late July!