Compared with the many grand shrines Kyoto has to offer, Ujigami appears humble, but it has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is one of the 17 properties on the official Historic Monuments of Kyoto list.
Ujigami Shrine is located in Uji area, south of Kyoto, which can be easily accessed by train plus a short and pleasant walk.
From Kyoto Station, take the Nara Line to Uji Station. The shrine is a 15-minute walk east.
Digital dendrochronology—that is, the science of determining the age of wood—indicates that Ujigami was built in 1060, making it the oldest original Shinto shrine in Japan.
It was originally built to serve as a guardian shrine for nearby Byodo-in Temple.
This shrine is notable for its honden, or sanctuary, which dates back to the late Heian period (794-1185), and as such is the oldest building in the style of nagare-zukuri architecture in Japan, characterized by its asymmetrical gabled roof. The curved roof was built in this style to offer shelter and welcome visitors.
Ujigami and nearby Uji Shrine were once known collectively as Rikyukamisha. The two shrines were split during the religious reforms of the Meiji period (1868-1912).