The Great Shrine in Gion
Yasaka Jinja is a Shinto shrine located at the end of the large Shijo-dori shopping avenue, east of Gion, Kyoto's most famous district. Formerly called the "sanctuary of Gion", it brings together the cheering crowd during its big summer festival.
Kyoto’s Yasaka shrine was built in the 7th century and was remodeled in the 17th century to adopt its current aspect. Yasaka-jinja is dedicated to Susanô, god of the oceans, and prominent figure of the Japanese Shinto mythology.
Yasaka-jinja is particularly famous for hosting the path of the famous Gion Matsuri festival every summer in July from Shijo-dori avenue, as well as celebrations of the New Year. At these periods of the year, beware of the impressive crowds that fill its vast grounds.
An old and popular vermilion enclosure
The shrine was originally called "Gion-sha" and consequently gave its name to the eponymous traditional district spreading at its foot. Due to its Buddhist connotation, the shrine was renamed with a "more Shinto" designation to comply with the Buddhism and Shinto separation policy during the Meiji Restoration.
Nowadays, the shrine is decorated with dozens of lanterns floating in the wind and light up at nightfall, and Japanese visitors come ring bells to accompany their prayers. There is only one lantern 🏮 left bearing the former name of Gion’s shrine.
Sightseers are also numerous to pass by Yasaka-jinja and its bright vermilion buildings in April to go to the neighboring Maruyama Park, in order to celebrate ohanami, the sakura 🌸 cherry blossom viewing.