By Bonson Lam
The Nishimura Family is a line of Shinto priests that has been serving Kamigamo Shrine for over two thousand years. Three hundred fifty years ago, there were 140 priests’ houses along the Myojin River. But now, only 20 of the houses remain. Long ago, before performing rites at the shrine, the priests purified their bodies and souls with water from the stream running through their gardens. This water came from (and still does even now) the Myojin River, which originates in the precincts of the shrine. Today's Nishimura Garden is a summer house, and priests don’t live there anymore. The garden is open to the public between March 15 and December 8, from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM. The entrance fee is 500 yen per person.