The Go’o Shrine, on the western side of the Imperial Palace in Kyoto, celebrates Lord Wake no Kiyomaro (733-799) who, in the year 769, blocked a Buddhist priest unwelcome by the populace, from taking the imperial throne. The priest, Yuke no Dokyo, exiled Lord Kiyomaro and wounded his leg while he was in transit. Fleeing to present day Oita Prefecture, Lord Kiyomaro was protected from his pursuers by 300 wild boars and his injuries were miraculously cured.
To this day the Go’o Shrine, dedicated to all things pig, is visited by individuals who suffer from leg and foot injuries similar to that of Lord Kiyomaro. A stone block bearing footprints is said to heal the injuries.
Instead of the usual komainu (mythical lion-like beasts) that stand guard outside of most Japanese shrines, the Go’o is guarded by a pair of wild boar. Established as a symbol of the new state orthodoxy in 1886 after the Meiji Restoration made loyalty to the Emperor a dominant theme of official propaganda, the shrine displays hundreds of boar images.
The shrine is also used as a place for lavish marriage ceremonies. It is situated next to several different hotels that are outfitted to host wedding receptions.
Know Before You Go
The shrine is located five minutes north of Marutamachi Subway Station on Karasuma Street across from the Imperial Palace visitors' entrance.