Yasaka (Gion) Shrine
Located in eastern Kyoto and within easy walking distance of the always popular Higashiyama District and Kiyomizudera, Yasaka Shrine dates back to the 7th century and a place of imperial patronage since the Heian Period (794-1185). The shrine complex is comprised of multiple structures including the ‘romon’ (gate), ‘honden’ (inner sanctuary), ‘haiden’ (offering hall) and dance stage bordered with hundreds of lanterns. A beautiful sight when lit a night, the shrine and central dance stage are the focal point the ‘Gion Matsuri’ held each year in July.
Also referred as ‘Gion-sha’, the shrine houses the deity Susano’o no Mikoto – god of storms and the sea – along with this wife Kushiinada no Mikoto and their eight children, Yahashira no Mikogami. Praying at the shrine is said to protect you from evil and ward of disasters while subsidiary shrines said to aid with finding love and developing true beauty.
The shrine is technically adjacent to Maruyama Park however with nothing separating to the two destinations, Yasaka is effectively located within the park. Maruyama boasts hundreds of cherry blossom trees and as such, is the city’s most popular ‘hanami’ (blossom-viewing) venues in spring followed by the beauty of its autumn leaves in October and November. The shrine and park are accessible at all times of the day and admission is free of charge.