Long connected with the Kyoto Geisha community centered in the nearby Gion District, Yasaka-jinja Shrine is a bustling, colorful and pleasant downtown shrine that lies at the heart of much of Kyoto's festive tradition.
The trees which populate the grounds cast their shade upon people who worship at various structures enshrining different spirits. You can hear the frequent ringing of brass bells (to wake up the gods), the clink of 5 or 10 yen coins falling into the collection receptacles, and the loud claps as people finish their prayer petitions. There are fortune tellers and different vendors throughout the grounds, lending the shrine a festive atmosphere.
The shrine dates back to at least 876, when the priest Enjo invited Gozu Tenno, the god of illness prevention, to the shrine in an effort to stop the run of epidemics and other disasters that were afflicting Kyoto residents at that time. This was also the beginning of the famous Gion-Matsuri Festival, which features a lively parade of ornate floats and people in period costumes culminating at Yasaka-jinja Shrine. It is now one of the three main festivals in Kyoto and draws spectators from all over the world.
* Address: 625 Kitagawa, Gion-machi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-8311
* Tel.: 075-561-6155
* Fax: 075-531-1126
* Access: 5-minute walk from Keihan Railway Gion Shijo Station
8-minute walk from Hankyu Railway Kawaramachi Station
2-minute walk from City Bus Stop Gion
* Wheelchair accessible: Yes (entry from Tokiwa-Shin-den)
* Entrance Fee: Free
* Website: http://web.kyoto-inet.or.jp/org/yasaka/english/index.html