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.
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.
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.
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.