Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto
Yasaka Shrine Minami-romon Gate At Night, Kyoto
Yasaka Shrine Minami-romon Gate, Kyoto
Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto
Yasaka Shrine Buden Hall Dance Stage, Kyoto
Yasaka Shrine Main Hall, Kyoto
Yasaka Shrine Nishi-romon Gate, Kyoto
Yasaka Shrine Buden Hall, Kyoto
Facts & Figures
The famous Yasaka Shrine, also known as Gion Shrine or Yasaka-jinja, is one of the most popular Shinto Shrines in Kyoto. The Yasaka Shrine complex is home to the guardian deity of the Gion district and contains many buildings like the Main Hall, dance stage, impressive gates and much more.
Explore Ryokans in Kyoto
Ryokans are the perfect way to discover old Japanese culture and traditions. Yasaka-jinja became the headquarters of over 2000 sub-shrines allover Japan with the same name and Susanoo-no-Mikoto shrines. Every evening hundreds of lanterns (sponsored by local businesses) get lid and create a unique atmosphere. It is my must-see recommendation for you. The largest summer festival in Kyoto, called Gion Matsuri, is also hosted at Yasaka Shrine. People visit the shrine to pray for love, successful weddings, good health and well-being of newborn babies. Right next to the shrine is the Maruyama Park located. It is one of the most popular cherry blossom spots (hanami) in Kyoto and therefore can get really crowded.
- Kyoto Yasaka Shrine:
- Open: - whole day, 365 days a year
- Admission fee: - free
The origin of Yasaka Shrine is dating back to the year 656. The shrine is dedicated to some famous figures in Japanese mythology like Susanoo-no-Mikoto (brother of Amaterasu), Kushinadahime-Mikoto (the princess of Susanoo-no-mikoto), Yahashirano-mikogami (one of Susanoo-no-mikoto's eight children) and the kami against misfortunes and disasters. Most of the exisiting buildings at the shrine complex are from a reconstruction project in 1654 under the order of shogun Tokugawa Ietsuna (1641 - 1680). During the years of 1871 till 1946 it got the official status of an government supported shrine (Kanpei-taisha).
Yasaka Shrine is located in the Gion District at the east end of Shijo-dori (Fourth Avenue) in Kyoto.
Address: 625 Gion-machi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, 605-0073 Kyoto
How to get to Yasaka Shrine?
- 20min from Kyoto Station to Gion bus stop by bus nr. 100 or 206
Main Hall (Honden) - The Main Hall is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. It covers an area of 1320 square meters. The height of the building is 15m and its unique roof construction style is called Gion-zukuri. The roof itself stretches over the main hall and front shrine. The hall was reconstructed in 1654 by the order of shogun Tokugawa Ietsuna (1641 - 1680).
Buden Hall (Kaguraden) - The square shaped open stage is decorated with hundreds of paper lanterns. It is used for dance performances, dedication and weddings ceremonies. During the Setsubun Matsuri in February you are able to see performances of maikos and geishas on stage.
Nishi-romon Gate (Yashamon Gate) - One of the main entrance gates for the Yasaka Shrine is a landmark in Kyotos Higashiyama district. Check out the fierce looking wooden samurai warrior statues (Zuijin) on the right and left side of the West entrance. The last major makeover of the gate happened in the year 2007, when it was repainted with vermilion lacquer and its roof tiles got modernized. Nishi-romon Gate received also the status of an Important National Cultural Property.
Minami-romon Gate - It is the beautiful South Gate of Yasaka Shrine and the official main entrance.
Ota Shrine - Here are enshrined Sarutahiko no Kami (patron kami of martial arts) and his wife Ame no Uzume no Mikoto (patron kami of performing arts).
Utsukushii Gozen Shrine - This small sub-shrine is dedicated to the 3 goddesses of beauty (Tagitsu-hime-no-kami, Tagiri-hime-no-kami, Ichikishima-hime-no-mikoto) and people come here the pray for a beautiful body and mind. The shrine is very popular destination for young woman, which includes geisha and maiko.
Ekijin (Eki-jinja) - It is a small sub-shrine of Yasaka. According to a Japanese legend the Somin-shorai deity is enshrined here who protects people from epidemic plagues.
Ebisu-sha Shrine - It is popular to visit this place and pray for a successful business, because the god of good fortune (Ebisu) is enshrined here.
Festival & Events (dates can change without notice)
People form large crowds at Yasaka for the first shrine visit of the new year. It is a very old tradition and visitors take home a sacred flame to cook their first dish of the year. This whole procedure is called Okera-Mairi.
One day before spring arrives (lunar calendar) the Setsubun is celebrated. Bean throwing (Mame maki) ceremonies are held at the shrine to get a good fortune for the year. Do not miss the bonfire on the evening.
Miyako Odori (1st - 31th)
The traditional annual spring dance of the Kyoto district Gion Kobu performed by Geiko and Maiko is a must-see on your Kyoto visit. Don't miss the most popular dances the Miyako Odori "Cherry Blossom Dances" or "Dances of the Old Capital" at the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theater (located close to Gion Corner).
Ochatsubo Dochu (1st)
The Ochatsubo Dochu or Traveling Tea Canisters festival dates back to the Edo Period. It represents the practice of showing the new tea harvest from Uji to the ruling shogun in the old days. Now during the parade large ceramic containers with tea are carried by people wearing traditional costumes from Kenninji Temple to Yasaka Shrine.
Aoi Matsuri (15th)
The highlight of this festival is a large parade from Imperial Palace through Shimogamo Shrine to the Kamo Shrines. More than 500 people wearing aristocratic costumes from the Heian Period (794 - 1185). The Aoi Matsuri belongs with the Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri to the three most famous festivals in Kyoto.
Gion Matsuri (whole month)
The month July is full of different events like the Yoiyama - Kyoto's Magical Night (locals in kimonos look at the giant Gion floats the day before the parade) or the famous Yamaboko Junko (float procession on the 17th of July).
Jidai Matsuri ("Festival of Ages") (22nd)
People celebrate with a large parade between Imperial Palace to Heian Shrine the anniversary of the foundation of Kyoto. App. 2000 participants wearing historical costumes from different time periods. Enjoy this great festival which last around 2 hours.
The well-being and growth of young children is celebrated at the shrine and in the rest of Japan.
Where to stay in Kyoto?
Day trips from Kyoto:
My 100 Best Moments in Japan
I am visiting Japan nearly every year since 2004. This is my collection of the 100 best moments in my favourite country. Enjoy the pictures and I hope you will start your own journey soon.