The cutest shrine in Kyoto is dedicated to bunnies.
To the average passerby, this shrine may seem like a fairly commonplace neighborhood site. Its neighbors include a busy main road, a concrete hotel, and a construction site. But take just a couple of steps inside and the world lightens to reveal a tiny oasis in an urban world—full of bunnies. Sorry, no real ones, but bunny motifs, statues, fortunes, and carvings.
Visitors are greeted by two curious rabbits that almost appear to be sniffing you. Many shrines and temples have guardians to watch their gates, and those who have seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail should know that rabbits are not to be trifled with, so bring no evil here.
The shrine is popular for those wanting or expecting children, due to the rabbits well known springtime reproductive rates. There is a wall bursting with wooden plaques bearing both rabbits and the prayers of hopeful parents-to-be.
In the center of the shrine grounds, pink and white rabbits adorn a small red railing, and these tiny rabbit figurines can also be bought at the shrine shop, with a fortune inside.
It is worth noting that the rabbit is only a messenger of this shrine. The main deities that are enclosed here come from a popular folk story about a god who fights a monster to save his princess, and they go on to have a wealth of children. Paintings of the folk story can be found around the shrine.
And the story goes back even further, to Kyoto’s beginning as the imperial city, to more than 1,200 years ago, when the shrine was a compass point for the east, and protected the emperor against evil or invasion.
Know Before You Go
The shrine is very easy to reach. It is on a popular bus route, walking distance from Konkai-Komyoji Temple, and opposite the Fresco supermarket.
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