Yasaka-jinja Shrine

An old shrine in Kyoto well-known for The Gion Festival.

Text : Hiroki Hayashi


  Locals in Kyoto call Yasaka-jinja Shrine as ‘Gion-san’ in a friendly manner. Before an ordinance to distinguish Shinto and Buddhism was issued in Meiji restoration, it was called ‘Gion-sha’ or ‘Gion-kanjinin’. A fresh vermillion colored Nishi Romon in front of Shijo-dori street, one of the main streets in Kyoto, has been a landmark of the area.

  This shrine worships three gods : Susanowono-mikoto, Kushinadahimeno-mikoto, and Yashirano-mikogame and thirteen more gods are worshiped in the main shrine.

  This main shrine is designated as an important cultural property with an original style called ‘Gion-zukuri’ which covers up a hall of worship and the main shrine all together; usually both needs to be separated at a standard shrine.

  There are several stories why the shrine was constructed, but one thing is sure that it all started by Irishi who came from Korai, Korean Peninsula in 656 to worship Susanowono-mikoto from Shiragino-kuni Gozusan at Yamashirono-kuni Otagigun Yasakago. Moreover, there is one more story that a Nanto Kofuku-ji Temple monk named, Ennyo established in 876.

  The Gion Festival is considered as one of Japan’s three greatest festivals and also recognized as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. This festival used to be called ‘Gion Goryoe’. An epidemic was spread out all over Japan in 869, so that people put 66 spears at Shinsen-en, in association of 66 countries in Japan at that time, and worshiped the god in Gion and moreover they prayed to remove disasters by sending Mikoshi (portable shrine) to the streets.

  A highlight is on July 17th and July 24th: On July 17th, there are Sakinomatsuri Yamahoko Junko, and Sinko-sai which Mikoshi travels to Otabisho (place where the god is lodged during festival). On july 24th, there are Atonomatsuri Yamahoko Junko, Hanagasa Junko, returning of Mikoshi to Yasaka-jinja Shrine called Kanko-sai. These events happens throughout a whole month from July 1st till 31st.


ADDRESS : 625 Kitagawa Gion-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto City (MAP)

PHONE : +81(0)75-561-6155

HOURS : 24 hours


WEBSITE : http://www.yasaka-jinja.or.jp/

★This is the end of TRAVEL IDEA ‘10 Things To Do in Kyoto - Visiting Temples and Shrines'. Please take a look at the other TRAVEL IDEA as well.

★TRAVEL IDEA ‘10 Things To Do in Kyoto'
① Visiting Temples and Shrines
② Buying souvenirs
③ Visiting Arashiyama・Sagano
④ Having Kyo-ryori
⑤ Wearing Kimono
⑥ Having Japanese tea
⑦ Having seafood
⑧ Visiting shops in Machiya
⑨ Being exposed to a traditional culture
⑩ Feeling nature