In my experience, I would rank Ise Jingu shrine, Isawano miya shrine, Omiwa Shrine, and hibara shrine as the top class of importance of existance. Some would choose the other shrines as their top favorites, but I could feel the sprit of ancient people of Japan at those my favorite places.
They are located around Ise, Nara, and some are in Kyoto area too. This year, I would love to visit more.
I went to Kyoto several months ago this year. Today I rested on my house valcony to feel the cold air of Winter. Seeing my garden and feeling changing seasons is really great, but this feeling started recently for me. When I was a student, I also went to Kyoto and saw the famous rock garden called Ryoanji Sekitei. But nothing was impressive for me from the rock garden, I just saw something famous.
Now I know being in the quiet garden or natural surroundings is something special for me too. Maybe I finally grew up like a Japanese person recently.
Trip was over several months ago, but I still remember the time at rock garden.
Ryoanji has a beautiful natural garden around the main building, that is also beyond my words. Kyoto was a capital of Japan 1200 years ago. People of advanced culture in Japan at the time loved the natural and quiet place. Japan is now far civilized but we still long for the same peaceful mind there.
I want to go back to Kyoto this year again.
This year, 2012, I traveled to Kyoto. The last time I was there, I was just a student and I didn't know how kyoto was important to our life of the Japanese. I remember I just watching temples and shrines without thinking anything. Beautiful was everything, but nothing was more important for me then. What a stupid man I was.
This year's Kyoto trip was totally different in the sense of my mind status. I was very curious about origin of Japan and Japanese people, Kyoto was the most important part for studying that mystery. Yes, I think Japanese origine is a total mystery. Nobody can tell us correctly how Japan started, how Japanese religion Shinto was formed, and how Emperor of Japan has been kept the same in our mentality for such a long time.
During the trip in Kyoto, I was extremely excited to see such legendary things around us. My biggest concern was Shimokamo Shrine. I was goosebumped when I stepped into the insde garded of the shrine. It's interesting. I'm just a Japanese and I can come to Shimokamo shrine anytime if I hope so. The culture and history are not strange for me either. But being in the shrine made me extremely get moved with some kind of special emoption.
Now I've learned a lot about this place, and also about Japanese shinto's origin. Shimokamo Shrine is the most important place for the study... or for the reason of existance of Shinto, Emperor, and us Japanese. The people who run this shrine from the starting time to present time are called Kamo clan. Kamo clan is apparently the top group of Hata clan, who created Japanese shinto system, or we can say Hata clan created Japanese basic social system and they built Kyoto city about 1200 years ago. Then, Who is the Hata clan ? This should be the simplly important question for that historical fact. And, who is the Kamo clan, the top of Hata clan ? If I start telling about it, I can't write all at once here in correct words. So I dare not to write about it.
But it's fact that they, Kamo clan, played significant role in forming Japan as a country and Japanese mentality as they are now. Kamo clan produced a lot of psychic medium in the history of Japan and all of them controled the power of old Japanese government. Some even say they, Kamo clan, are playing more important role still now than Emperor of Japan to keep Japanese Shinto system.
Then I will have to ask ouselves, what is Japanese Shinto ? Why does Shinto still affect on Japanese people so much and how it could be existing in Japan against the big power like christianity ? What kind of relation is lying between Shinto and Emperor of Japan ?
Again, it's too many aspects that we have to consider on that question, so I don't write about it in this limitted space.
The more I try to know it, the more mystery come up in fron to myself. This is what Japan has been...I think like that. Japan was formed and has been running by a certain powerful people, but all are still hidden. That " unknown consciousness about our country, Japan" helps forming the spirit, mentality, and nature of Japanese people.
What I write here probably sounds a little crazy for readers ( maybe mostly foreigners ). However, it's true that even I, myself as a Japanese, don't know the real facts of Japan or Japanese history, origin and the reasons of existance for such a long history. Also it's fact that I, a Japanese, get so excited to go to the shirine, Shimokamo Jinja in Kyoto and I feel like being coverd by some unknown power of Japan's mystery in the heart of Shimokamo Jinja shrine.
Tere are many exhibition about the history of Shimokamo jinja, which includes Emperor related heritage. Of course I will repeatedly come back here to share the feeling of Japanese spirit. I can't explain well, but this is a feeling of myself, a Japanese person.