There are many Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in Kyoto, and all of them offer highly unique and elaborate talismans. Here we feature 5 must-have cute and rare talismans from Kyoto.
1. Kamigamo Jinja Shrine "Safe Travel Talisman"
The Kamigamo Jinja Shrine, located in the green area of Kamigamo, in the north of Kyoto, is a prestigious shrine that was built in 678 and which has been designated as a World Heritage Site. The god enshrined here is Kamowakeikazuchi no Okami, who is considered to rule over the powers of nature and uses "thunder" to ward off evil. Since "thunders" rule the sky too, this god is also considered to be the guardian deity of travels. At the shrine, you will find a wide variety of talismans related to this divine virtue, but if you like traveling, we especially recommend to buy their rare Safe Travel Talisman (800 JPY). It comes in two colors, pink and blue, and the embroidered plane makes it look really cute. As long as you have this talisman with you, you do not need to worry about long journeys by plane, and it will surely make you all the more excited about traveling.
2. Mikami Jinja Shrine "Kushigata (Comb-shaped) Talisman"
The Mikami Jinja shrine, located at the base of Mt. Ogura and famous for having been mentioned in "The Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets", is the only shrine in Japan that answers prayers related to hair. The deity in residence is "Fujiwara no Unemenosuke Masayuki", a persona from the Kamakura period who is considered to have been the first hairdresser in Japan. The shrine receives visits from people who would like to keep a beautiful hair forever, along with hair stylist and barbers. In addition, since hair is considered to protect the human head, this deity is also famous for taking care of the head, and a large number of visitors come here to pray so that they will pass university entrance exams and other exams. The "Kushigata Talisman" (700 JPY), for sale within the premises of the shrine, is decorated with a cute Japanese-style pattern, and just having it can surely put anybody in a good mood. It is small, so it makes for a perfect souvenir.
3. Seimei Jinja Shrine "Kikyo Dorei(Bellflower Clay Bells)"
The Seimei Jinja shrine is devoted to Seimei Abe, an astronomer active in the middle of the Heian period, and, being established in 1007, it has a very long history. The deity in this shrine is especially famous for warding off evil and providing protection. There are many other things with protective properties within the grounds of the shrine, such as a 300 year old camphor tree, which is also said to ward off evil, and peaches, which are said to be effective in preventing calamities. If you make it all the way to this shrine, you cannot leave without getting a protective talisman. We especially recommend their seasonal clay bells (800 JPY), which are made by hand and decorated with scattered bellflowers. Clay bells have been said to ward off evil since ancient times, so carrying them close to you will definitely keep you safe not only in Japan, but wherever you go.
Image provided by SEIMEI JINJA
4. Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine "Nakayoshi Mamori"
The Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine is familiarly known as "Nishiki no Tenjin-san" among the locals, and it is located in Shinkyogoku, in the busy quarter of Kawahara-cho, which is located at the east edge of the "Nishiki Market", also known as the "Kitchen of Kyoto" since the Heian period, and which is always bustling with tourists. The deity in residence is Sugawara no Michizane, which is famous as the god of learning, and the shrine constantly receives visitors from all over Japan who come here to pray so that they will pass their exams and improve in their studies. In addition, since this is a shopping district, the deity is also considered to increase business prosperity. The most popular talisman in the Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine is the "Nakayoshi Mamori" (500 JPY). This talisman, shaped like a cute butterfly, fulfills the functions of fulfilling romance, and maintaining the bond between parents and children, and between friends. One set includes two talismans, so you can give one to your loved one or a friend, in a gesture that will surely deepen your relationship.
5. Mimurotoji Temple "Ryoun Mamori (Good Luck Talisman)"
The Mimurotoji Temple, with a vast garden of about 16,000 square meters, offers the enjoyable view of flowers throughout the four seasons, which has made it known among the locals as "the temple of flowers". It has a very long history, as it was built in 770 by the imperial order of Emperor Kounin. In front of the Main Hall, there is a stone sculpture of a cow called "Hosho-ushi", which is said to give good luck. The temple is also famous for its hydrangeas, so we recommend their good luck talisman (500 JPY) designed with hydrangeas as the motif. Apparently, this talisman is a symbol for luck to become better with time in the same way in which hydrangeas change colors and become brighter as days go by. You cannot take real hydrangeas home, but this talisman makes it possible for you to take a memory of your trip anywhere you go.
*Entrance fee required. (Adults: 500 JPY, Children: 300 JPY)
Did you enjoy the article? There are many more unique and cute talismans in Kyoto. They also serve different purposes, so make sure to check them out every time you visit a shrine or a temple. You will surely find the perfect talisman to answer your prayers.
*Please note that the prices and other information in the article may not be the most up-to-date information.