Kyoto Beauty Shrine: Yasaka Sub-shrine Utsukushi Gozensha

There is a shrine for just about anything that you can imagine in Kyoto, and quite a few for things that you might not be able to imagine. This one is for beauty. When you come to town you can stop by this shrine and pray to have beautiful skin, and of course, a beautiful heart.

Utsukushi Gozensha is a sub-shrine of Yasaka Shrine and it is located in the Gion maiko (geisha) entertainment district. Maiko and geiko (called geisha in Tokyo) come here to pray for beauty, as do people working in related businesses such as cosmetic companies, hair stylists and so on. Of course just regular people come too.

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The Beauty Shrine is not very well known and you could easily miss it. There are no English language signs or instructions at the shrine. Here is what you do:

1. Get Some ‘Beauty’ Water
Kyoto’s famed ground water plays an important role here too. What you do is simply catch a few drops of water from the fountain at pat them on your face. The water in the stone bowl below is stagnant and not considered clean, so don’t use that. The shrine says not to drink the water. They also say not to be greedy, just use a few drops. (Oops, I used a handful.)

The inscription on the stone says, “Body and heart, beautiful.”

Kyoto Beauty Shrine: Utsukushi-gozensha 京都 美御前社

Kyoto Beauty Shrine: Biyosui (Beauty Water)

2. Pray at the Shrine
At this shrine proper you pray to three different gods. (Miwa says that this is characteristically Japanese, three gods in one little shrine, and they all get along just fine. No one fighting one another.) Throw in some change, ring the bell (via the rope), bow deeply twice, clap hands twice, pray and make wish and then bow once. Properly, you show say your name and address and then thank the god.

Kyoto Beauty Shrine: Utsukushi-gozensha 京都 美御前社

Kyoto Beauty Shrine (Utsukushi Gozensha)

3. Leave the Gods a Memo
White your wish for beauty on the small wooden ‘ema’ plaque. Don’t worry about your native language, the Japanese gods can read them all! Traditionally they say be sure to write your name and address though, or the gods might not know where exactly to send the blessing. (I love that, that is soooo Japanese.) Now in the age of privacy, some people no longer do this. When you are done, hang it on a peg under small roof to the right of the torii gate.

Kyoto Beauty Shrine: Utsukushi-gozensha 京都 美御前社

Kyoto Beauty Shrine 'Ema' Wooden Plaques: Wishing for Beauty

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One Response to “Kyoto Beauty Shrine: Yasaka Sub-shrine Utsukushi Gozensha”

  1. [...] This shrine holds a memorial service for worn out knives every year. The shrine accepts old knives and other cutting instruments that have served their human owners. Japanese give thanks to their knives even, now how is that for gratitude and humility? This is another sub-shrine at Yasaka Shrine, less than a 1 minute walk from the ‘Beauty Shrine‘. [...]

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