Matsunoo Taisha Shrine (Matsuo-sai,location,history)

Matsunoo Taisha Shrine, Matsuo-sai

The information about Matsunoo Taisha Shrine is presented here. The Hata clan associated with Matsunoo Taisha Shrine is said to have excelled in the art of sake brewing, and Matsunoo Taisha Shrine is said to have come to be worshipped as “the number one sake brewing god in Japan” after the end of the Muromachi period (1333-1573). At Matsunoo Taisha Shrine, it is said that if water from the sacred spring “Kame-no-i” is mixed with sake, it will not spoil, and there is still a custom for brewers to bring this water back home. Saka-daru (sake barrels) are lined up in the Mikoshi-gura (portable shrine storehouse).

【Matsunoo Taisha Shrine Location Map & Directions】

Address: 3 Arashiyama Miyama-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Matsunoo Taisha-mae bus stop (about 3 minutes on foot), Hankyu Matsuo Taisha Station (about 3 minutes on foot)

【Opening Hours & Closed (confirmation required)】

Opening Hours: 5:00-18:00
Closed: open year round

【Entrance Fees & Tickets (confirmation required)】

Individual: Free

【Matsunoo Taisha Shrine History】

Matsunoo Taisha Shrine (松尾大社) is said to have originated when the inhabitants of the area enshrined the spirit of Mt. Matsuo-yama as the guardian deity of their lives on an iwakura (rock) at the top of Osugi-dani Valley, near the summit of Mt. Matsuo-yama. An iwakura (rock) called Goshinseki remains near the summit of Mt. Matsuo-yama. It is said that around the 5th century, the Hata clan, an immigrant tribe descended from the Chinese emperor Shin-no-Shikotei, settled in the area at the invitation of the imperial court, and the chief of the Hata clan worshiped the deity of Mt. Matsuo-yama as the general deity of his clan and was involved in the settlement of the area. In 701, by order of the 42nd Emperor Monmu, Hata-no-Imikitori built a shrine at the present site at the foot of Mt. Matsuo-yama and transferred the spirit of the iwakura (rock) to the shrine. Chimarume, Hata-no-Imikitori’s younger sister, served as the Itsukime, and her descendants continued to serve as the head priestesses of Matsunoo Taisha Shrine until 1868. In 718, Hata-no-Imikitsugafu, the child of Chimarume, first served as the hori (priest) of Matsunoo Taisha Shrine. In 720, it is said that Matsunoo Taisha Shrine is said to have received the title of “Taisha”. In November 784, the 50th Emperor Kanmu moved the capital from Heijo-kyo in Nara to Nagaoka-kyo in Kyoto, and sent an imperial envoy to Matsunoo Taisha Shrine to announce the new capital. In 784, Matsunoo Taisha Shrine was awarded the Shinkai rank of “Jugo-ige (従五位下)”, and in 786, it was elevated to the Shinkai rank of “Jushi-ige (従四位下)”. After the capital was moved to Heian-kyo by the 50th Emperor Kanmu in 794 and Matsuo Taisha Shrine was positioned as the western guardian shrine of the imperial palace. In 845, Matsunoo Taisha Shrine was elevated to the Shinkai rank of “Shoshi-ige (正四位下)”. During the Jowa period (834-847), the 54th Emperor Nimyo sent an imperial envoy to Matsunoo Taisha Shrine to elevate it to the Shinkai rank of “Jusan-i (従三位)”. Emperor Nimyo prayed for a cure for his illness at Matsunoo Taisha Shrine. In 852, the 55th Emperor Montoku elevated Matsunoo Taisha Shrine to the Shinkai rank of “Shoni-i (正二位)”. In 859, the 56th Emperor Seiwa elevated Matsunoo Taisha Shrine to the Shinkai rank of “Shoichi-i (正一位). Emperor Seiwa also dedicated the sacred treasure and prayed for rain. In the middle of the Heian period (794-1185), in the “Engishiki Jinmyocho”, Matsunoo Taisha Shrine was written as “Matsuo Jinjya Niza…”, and was listed as a Myojin Taisha. In addition, in the middle of the Heian period, Matsuo Taisha was ranked 4th among the top seven shrines of the 22-shrine system. From the middle of the Heian period (794-1185) after 1004 to the Kamakura period (1185-1333), the 66th Emperor Ichijo, the 68th Emperor Go-Ichijo, the 69th Emperor Go-Suzaku, the 71st Emperor Go-Sanjo, the 73rd Emperor Horikawa, the 75th Emperor Sutoku, the 76th Emperor Konoe, the 82nd Emperor Go-Toba, and the 84th Emperor Juntoku visited Matsunoo Taisha Shrine. The 62nd Emperor Murakami prayed for the safety of the Imperial Palace, and the 77th Emperor Go-Shirakawa dedicated the sacred treasure. During the Heian period (794-1185), Matsunoo Taisha Shrine had manors in the Tamba, Settsu, Echu, Kai, Hoki, and Buzen provinces. In the early Kamakura period (1185-1333), Minamoto no Yoritomo, the 1st shogun of the Kamakura shogunate, visited Matsunoo Taisha Shrine to offer prayers and donated 100 ryo of gold and 10 holy horses. During the Nanbokucho period (1337-1392), the Muromachi shogunate granted Matsunoo Taisha Shrine a sum of money for the reconstruction of the shrine. In the middle of the Muromachi period (1336-1573), Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the 8th shogun of the Muromachi shogunate, donated holy horses to the Matsunoo Taisha Shrine. Since the end of the Muromachi period, Matsuo Taisha Shrine has been worshipped as “the number one sake brewing god in Japan”. In 1568, when Oda Nobunaga entered Kyoto, the territory of Matsuo Taisha Shrine was transferred to Ueno Hidemasa, a close apprentice of Ashikaga Yoshiaki, the 15th shogun of the Muromachi shogunate, but it was returned in 1572. In 1575, the bugyo (magistrate) of Yamashiro province, Hosokawa Fujitaka (Hosokawa Yusai), guaranteed an annual tribute. During the Momoyama period (1573-1603), Toyotomi Hideyoshi donated holy horses to Matsuo Taisha Shrine. Sugihara Ietsugu, a vassal of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the lord of Yodo Castle, granted the territory to Matsuo Taisha Shrine. During the Edo period (1603-1868), the Edo shogunate guaranteed Matsuo Taisha Shrine 1,078 koku of territory. During the Edo period, Matsuo Taisha Shrine had a shrine territory of 1,333 koku and more than 1,000 mountain forests in the Arashiyama area. In 1871, Matsuo Taisha Shrine was listed as a kanpei-taisha under the modern shrine ranking system. In 1950, the name of the shrine was changed from Matsuo Jinjya to Matsuo Taisha.
*reference・・・Matsunoo Taisha Shrine website

【Matsunoo Taisha Shrine Highlights (May be undisclosed)】

★Honden (main shrine, 本殿, Important Cultural Property) was destroyed by fire in 1285 and rebuilt in 1397. Honden enshrines Oyamagui-no-kami and Nakatsushimahime-no-mikoto. Honden is Matsuo-dukuri (Ryonagare-dukuri), a rare architectural style.
★Ro-mon (Ro-mon Gate) is said to have been built in 1667. Ro-mon is about 11 meters high and houses the statue of Zuishin on both sides. Ro-mon is surrounded by a wire fence, and many shakushi are inserted through the fence. The shakushi are called “kigan-shakushi” (prayer-shakushi), and it is said that if you write down your wishes, they will come true.
★Shofu-en (松風苑) was created in 1975 by the gardener Shigemori Mirei. After Shigemori Mirei’s death, his eldest son, Shigemori Kanto, took over and completed the garden. Shofu-en includes Joko-no-niwa, Kyokusui-no-niwa, and Horai-no-niwa.
松尾大社見どころ (Matsunoo Taisha Shrine Highlights)

【Events (confirmation required)】

★Setsubun-sai (節分祭) is held every year on Setsubun. At Setsubun-sai, Meigen Hamayumi-shinji is held, in which a Shinto priest holds a bow and pulls the string three times, chanting ” Matsuo-no-kami ni inoran azusayumi-no-gen no oto wo kikeba Akuma shirizoku” and praying for the expulsion of the plague demons. Iwami Kagura is also dedicated.
★At Matsuo-sai (松尾祭), Shinko-sai (Oide, 神幸祭) is held on a Sunday after April 20th, and Kanko-sai (Okaeri, 還幸祭) is held every year three weeks after Shinko-sai. At Shinko-sai, the karabitsu of Tsukiyomi Shrine and six mikoshi (portable shrines), Omiya Shrine, Ichitani Shrine, Munakata Shrine, Yonosha Shrine, Koromode Shrine, and Sannomiya Shrine, parade to Koromode Shrine, Sannomiya Shrine, and Nishi Shichijo Otabisho.
At Kanko-sai, the karabitsu and six mikoshi parade from Koromode Shrine, Sannomiya Shrine, and Nishi Shichijo Otabisho to Matsunoo Taisha Shrine.
★Hasaku-sai (八朔祭) is held every year on the first Sunday of September. Hasaku-sai is held on August 1st of the lunar calendar, when damage from typhoons and pests increases, and people pray for good winds and rain, a good harvest, and safety for their families. At Hasaku-sai, events such as the procession of the onna-mikoshi, Hasaku sumo, and akachan-dohyoiri are held.

【Flower Calendar (cherry blossoms, etc )】

★The best time to see hydrangeas (アジサイ) is from late June to mid-July. About 1,000 hydrangeas of about 30 species are planted in the Ajisai-en Garden (Hydrangea Garden) behind Shofu-en on the slope of Mt. Matsuo-yama, including ko-ajisai, hon-ajisai, and yama-ajisai.
★Yamabuki-matsuri (山吹まつり) is held every year from April to May. About 3,000 yamabuki are planted around the shrine grounds and along the approach to the shrine. Yellow yamabuki bloom along the Ichinoi-gawa River and white yamabuki bloom in Joko-no-niwa of Shofu-en.
(The best time to see the plants depends on the climate of the year.)

【Telephone (Please refrain from making phone calls.)】

Tel: +81-75-871-5016

【Recommended Walking Route】

The recommended walking route from Matsunoo Taisha Shrine is to Arashiyama and Sagano on the north side. Arashiyama and Sagano are popular among both domestic and international tourists for their scenic spots such as Togetsu-kyo Bridge and Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Path. Mt. Arashiyama is one of Kyoto’s most famous cherry blossom and foliage viewing spots, and is especially recommended during the cherry blossom and foliage seasons.

【Remarks(access, parking, disclaimer, etc)】
If you plan to visit Matsunoo Taisha Shrine, be sure to check the latest information.


  1. 錦市場(Nishiki Market)
  2. 竹林の道(Bamboo Forest Path)
  3. 嵐山