Translated by Sandy Lau
Yasaka Shrine Complete Guide: Highlights And Access From Kyoto Station
Located in Gion, Yasaka Shrine is a prominent Kyoto shrine, also known as a spiritual spot for love and connection. Read to learn about what to do at Yasaka Shrine, its history, and how to get there from Kyoto Station.
Written by Yuki ISHIBASHI
Yasaka Shrine in Gion, Kyoto
Yasaka Shrine in Gion, an area in Kyoto lined with many high-class Japanese restaurants and shops, is a major shrine of historical prominence. Due to its bright structures, history, and close proximity to Gion and public transport, it is a popular spot and is considered a must-see when visiting Kyoto.
This article covers the history and some of the highlights of Yasaka Shrine, and how to get there from Kyoto Station.
A Prominent Shrine Bustling with Visitors All Year
Yasaka Shrine is located at the east end of Shijo-dori, one of Kyoto’s main streets, filled with small and large restaurants and shops of all kinds. The shrine is thought to have been established a little before the Heian Era in Japan and holds hundreds of years of history.
Most of the shrine structures are designated as Important Cultural Property of Japan, including the iconic Nishiromon Gate visitors are greeted with when walking to the shrine from Shijo-dori.
The shrine never lacks in visitors throughout the year due to the various festivals held monthly. Yasaka Shrine is also part of the famous Gion Matsuri in summer. The gates do not close, which makes it possible to visit at night.
Pray for Love and Connections at Yasaka Shrine
Yasaka Shrine is considered to be a powerful place for love in Kyoto.
Enshrined at Yasaka Shrine are the husband and wife gods Susanoo-no-Mikoto and Kushinadahime-no-Mikoto. As the two gods were very close, eventually over time, the shrine became thought of as a spiritual love spot.
You will notice adorable heart-shaped ema hung at the shrine, usually with visitors' wishes for improved relationships or meeting people. You can write and hang one yourself after purchasing one for a few hundred yen.
Pictured above is a statue of their son-in-law, Okuninushi-no-Mikoto, who is known as the god of enmusubi (*3). The son-in-law is shown rescuing an injured rabbit, recreating a famous scene from Japanese mythology.
*3 Enmusubi: The connections of fate and relationships between people.
Smaller Shrines at Yasaka Shrine
There are a number of smaller shrines on the grounds of Yasaka Shrine. Below are some that you should check out.
1. Hamono Shrine: Carve Out Your Future
North of the main building of Yasaka Shrine is Hamono Shrine and is known as the birthplace of cutlery and knives in Japan. When Kyoto was the capital of Japan, outstanding swords craftsmen came here, leading to the further development of knife-making was developed before spreading throughout Japan.
This is where the god of cutlery and knives is enshrined. As he is the god of blades, it is said that you can carve out (your) future.
This stone pillar represents the cutlery and knives that are thought to have originated here.
2. Utsukushi-Gozen Shrine: Gain a Sound Mind and Body
Utsukushi-Gozen Shrine, also in Yasaka Shrine, is known as a spiritual spot for improving beauty and health. Three goddesses collectively known as the Three Munakata Goddesses are enshrined here.
Ichikishimahime-no-Mikoto, thought to be the most gorgeous out of the three goddesses, is a deity of beauty, entertainment, and economic fortune. Many of Kyoto’s maiko (apprentice geisha) and those concerned with their appearance visit this shrine.
Water thought to improve inner and outer beauty flows at Utsukushi-gozen Shrine. You can take a few droplets of water and pat it on our skins to beautify both our mind and body.
Attend the Gion Festival in July
Picture courtesy of Kyoto’s Free Photo Collection (Japanese)
Summer in Kyoto is synonymous with the Gion Festival, one of Japan’s most well-known festivals. Gion Festival was originally a religious festival that took place at Yasaka Shrine. You will be able to experience and enjoy a truly extravagant and vivid Japanese tradition by visiting during this event.
The Gion Festival is a lively traditional event with large decorative yamaboko (a festival float with wheels) that travel through the streets of Kyoto. The festival annually takes place from July 1 to July 31. If you are visiting Japan during the summer, definitely please travel to Kyoto to enjoy one of Japan’s top summer festival.
In addition to the shrines introduced earlier, there are others such as Ebisu Shrine, home to the god of prosperous businesses, and Ota Shrine, where you will be blessed with an improvement in art and learning, located in the precincts of Yasaka Shrine.
How to Get to Yasaka Shrine
To get to Yasaka Shrine from Kyoto Station, you can either take a bus or the Kyoto subway.
Via bus, take the Kyoto City Bus #206 and get off at Gion. The bus ride takes around 21 minutes and the stop is right in front of Yasaka Shrine. It costs 230 yen one way.
If you use the subway, take the Karasu Line towards the Kokusaikaikan. Transfer at Shijo and go to Keihan Karasuma Station. Ride until Kawaramachi Station. It costs around 360 yen. Yasaka Shrine is around a 10-minute walk from Kawaramachi, but the path will take you through Shijo-dori.
Visit Yasaka Shrine
Yasaka Shrine is one of the most well-known shrines in Japan. With its gorgeous gates, deep history, and close proximity to other major sightseeing areas, this is a must-visit shrine that will delight your senses and stimulate your mind.