I recently posted the question, how does a shrine fit into the community that surrounds it? In the case of Kamigamo Shrine in the north of Kyoto this summer, it was quite clearly a place for people of the neighborhood to escape to, either for respite from the heat in the small river or to look at some modern art.
Art students from Seika University had put up an exhibition of their work for the Kamigamo Shrine Art Project 2011. I was fascinated by how people were interacting with the art installations that covered the grassy field within the shrine precincts.
The atmosphere was casual and calm, mixed with a bit of fascination and a good deal of whimsy, much of it past the point of being bizarre. A number of the pieces were inspired by the shrine itself and some encouraged viewer participation. But I really liked seeing a young boy who was actively being artistically inspired by the shrine. He sat in the grass, facing the gate leading to the heart of the shrine, drawing.
I was even pleasantly surprised when a woman came over to invite me on a three part tour of the exhibit, the shrine, and the neighborhood. It turned into a very pleasant afternoon.