Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Kyoto
Population
2,644,331

Yasaka Shrine

Gain beauty and celebrate the famous Gion Festival around here.

Yasaka Shrine offers an amazing opportunity to get in touch with the historical side of Japan, especially the Heian period (794-1185), when the Japanese started to develop an original style of architecture.

The shrine (formerly Gion Shrine) is located in Kyoto, between the Gion and Higashiyama districts. Even though Yasaka is the main shrine in the area, there are other historical attractions nearby, such as smaller shrines and parks.

Maruyama Park

Nearby Maruyama Park has a gigantic weeping sakura tree.

Summer festivities

The shrine is most famous for its complex architecture and the Gion Matsuri (festival). The festival is held each year throughout July, with special parades in Gion on July 17 and 24. It attracts a lot of tourists and turns the city center into a lively festival with food stalls and many women dressed in traditional kimono.

Originally, the Gion festival came into being by an epidemic of plague and pestilence, which caused a lot of deaths in Kyoto during that summer. The carrying of a mini shrine through the streets is said to have cured this epidemic, and so the tradition of the Gion Festival lasts even now.

Hakata Gion Yamakasa 2

Gion Festival’s carrying of the mini shrines.

Shrine of beauty

Yasaka Shrine is also one of the biggest in Japan and deifies one of the most important gods in Japanese mythology: Susanoo-no-mikoto. He was the brother of the goddess Amaterasu. The shrine’s huge garden area hosts a smaller temple named Utsukushi Gozensha. It is devoted to Ichikishima-hime-no-mikoto, who was said to be a beautiful woman. Ichikishima-hime-no-mikoto, also known as Benten-sama, is not just a goddess of beauty, but also of the performing arts, especially music and singing.

It was just a matter of time until this shrine became a popular power spot for beauty — a good clue as to why it is frequently visited by young women. The most popular prayers are for healthy skin and shiny hair. After finishing your prayers, it is time to take a break and walk through the cherry tree-lined streets that lead to Maruyama Park.

Maruyama Park

Close to the shrine is Maruyama Park, an impressive garden with a huge pond and many bridges. The entrance is guarded by a gigantic weeping sakura tree.

In the springtime, the cherry blossoms transform the park into the perfect place for an authentic hanami (flower viewing). This park offers a distinctive experience for enjoying the rich culture of Japan’s ancient past. After a breath of fresh air, you can also walk out of the park to find yourself in an area with narrow streets and old Japanese houses and restaurants.

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Things To Know

Special Events

Missed the summer and all the festivals? Just check the schedule of Yasaka Shrine. Almost every week there is a typical festival held. Those offer you the chance to see a Miko (shrine maiden) dancing or listening to the shamisen, a three string Japanese instrument. There are also various food stands lined up in the temple area. So enjoy the traditional arts with a nice snack. The best times for experiencing those festivals are the sakura (cherry blossoms) season, New Year’s Day and during the Gion Festival.

Fees

Admission is free!

How To Get There

Address

625 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0073, Japan

By train

From Hankyu Kawaramachi station, about a 8-minute walk.

From Keihan Gion Shijo station, about a 5-minute walk.

From JR Kyoto station ,use the bus or a taxi, for about a 15-minute ride.

By bus

Use bus line 206, and get off at “Shijo.”

Where To Stay

Yuzuya Ryokan
  • Higashiyama-ku Gion-cho Minamigawa 545 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 605-0074
  • 8.9/10
  • 0.1 km
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Hotel Sunline Kyoto Gion Shijo
  • Higashiyama-ku Kiyoi-cho 493-1 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 605-0821
  • 8.6/10
  • 0.2 km
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Kiyoicho Tian's House
  • 493-8 Kiyoicho, Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 605-0821
  • 0.2 km
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Gion Hatanaka
  • Higashiyama-ku Gion Yasaka Jinjya Minamimon Mae Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 605-0074
  • 9.1/10
  • 0.2 km
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