Niu Kawakami Shrine Shimo-sha located in Shimoichi-cho, Yoshino-gun, Nara Pref. is one of the three Niu Kawakami shrines that have existed since the ancient times. The three shrines are respectively called Kami-sha (the top shrine), Naka-sha (the middle shrine) and Shimo-sha (the bottom shrine). The Shimo shrine enshrines Kura Okami no Kami (the god of water and rain). According to the shrine record, it was founded in 676, when the god said, “If you set up the holy pillars of my shrine in this deep mountain, I will bring the blessed rain instead of the damaging rain for the people of this country.” In Shoku-Nihongi (the chronicle written in the 8th C.), it is written that in 763, a black horse was specially dedicated together with Heihaku (strips of paper symbolizing offerings of clothing). From that time on, it became a custom to dedicate a black horse in offering a prayer for bringing rain and a white horse for bringing a good weather.
Through the precinct of Shimo shrine runs a clear stream. The village of Niu (literally meaning “cinnabar producing”) was the producing place of red stones, red soil and vermillion (mercury). It is said that the tribes that had the skills in mining and moved from place to place seeking for mineral resources gave the name to this place.
The present Shimo shrine is thought to have been the ancient Kami shrine.