- 3 min read

Unique Ema in Kyoto

Record your prayers and wishes in fun ways

Kyoto is one of Japan's most popular destinations for visitors, and it's also a great destination for unique ema spotters. These small plaques contain people's prayers and wishes written on them, and some of them in Kyoto take on one-of-a-kind shapes and styles. This guide covers five unique ema across the prefecture.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

One of the most popular tourist spots in all of Kyoto, Fushimi Inari is the head shrine of the god of foxes. The shrine grounds are home to numerous fox statues, and the ema here also come in a fox shape. They're not the only ema available at the shrine, either – they also have ones in the shape of torii arches!

68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, 612-0882

Fox ema at Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fox ema at Fushimi Inari Shrine (Photo: Silvia Sala / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Kamigamo Shrine

With a history dating back to 678, Kamigamo Shrine is one of Japan's oldest Shinto shrines. There are several types of ema available here, and this heart shaped-one is inspired by The Tale of Genji, a classic piece of Japanese literature from the early 11th century.

339 Kamigamo Motoyama, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8047

Kamigamo Shrine
Kamigamo Shrine (Photo: Chris Gladis / CC BY-ND 2.0)

Kongoji Temple (Yasaka Kōshindō)

A visit to Kongoji Temple (also known as Yasaka Kōshindō) is full of color, thanks to the unique rainbow-hued fabric balls used to write prayers and wishes on. Because of the extremely photogenic nature of the temple, it has become an Instagram hotspot in recent years, and its location in close proximity to other Kyoto hotspots like Kiyomizudera adds to the ease of visiting.

390 Kinencho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0828

Colorful Kongoji (Yasaka Kōshindō) Temple
Colorful Kongoji (Yasaka Kōshindō) Temple (Photo: Lorena a.k.a. Loretahur / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Kifune Shrine

Located around half an hour from Kyoto City, Kifune Shrine is filled with maple trees on the approach to the shrine's main hall. People come here to pray for all kinds of things, from the health and wellbeing of their families to business success, and even warding off evil, and the maple leaf shaped ema feel representative of the shrine's character.

180 Kuramakibunecho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 601-1112

Kifune Shrine
Kifune Shrine (Photo: Federico Moroni / CC BY-NC 2.0)

Kawai-jinja Shrine

Located on the grounds of Shimogamo Shrine, Kawai-jinja is a shrine where people come to pray for beauty, so it's perhaps not a huge surprise that the ema here are shaped like a hand mirror. They can be decorated with a self-portrait, and many visitors do this with their own makeup supplies – however, the shrine does have crayons and colored pencils to utilize as well.

59 Shimogamo Izumikawacho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-0807

Ema at Kawai-jinja, a sub-shrine of Shimogamo-jinja
Ema at Kawai-jinja, a sub-shrine of Shimogamo-jinja (Photo: Rosewoman / CC BY 2.0)
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Sleiman Azizi a year ago
The Kongoji ema are pretty unique. I don't recall seeing that kind of design anywhere else. If someone has, do let me know!
Kim Author a year ago
Definitely one of the more unusual offerings!
Bonson Lam a year ago
Very interesting! It reminds me of a modern art installation.
Kim Author a year ago
Oh yes, I can definitely feel those vibes now that you mention it!
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