Translated bySandy Lau
Get Blessed With Love At Yasaka Shrine In Gion, Kyoto
Located in Gion, Yasaka Shrine is a spiritual spot for romantic blessings and is bustling with tourists all year. The shrine is also home to Hamono Shrine, the birthplace of cutlery, and Utsukushi-gozen Shrine which blesses its visitors with beauty.
Written by Yuki ISHIBASHI
Gion is Kyoto’s best entertainment district as its streets are lined with many high-class ryotei (*1). It is a district especially known to be filled with tourists, even within Kyoto.
In the district of Gion is a shrine that is very blessed by its enshrined gods. Today let's visit Yasaka Shrine, a shrine that can be easily visited while sightseeing in Gion.
*1 Ryotei: A high-class restaurant where you can eat authentic Japanese cuisine. Often you will eat your meal in a private room where you can eat while enjoying the atmosphere of the garden outside.
A Popular Shrine Bustling With People All Year
Situated at the east end of Fourth Avenue (Shijo-dori), one of Kyoto’s main streets, is Yasaka Shrine.
The shrine is located next to Maruyama Park, a park with beautiful shidare-zakura (*2), and never lacks in visitors throughout the year due to the various festivals that take place every month here. The gates never close, even when the sun has set, which makes it possible to visit at night.
*2 Shidare-zakura: A type of cherry blossom with branches that grow hanging towards the ground. It is also Kyoto’s prefecture flower.
Kyoto’s Greatest Spiritual Love Spot
Yasaka Shrine is also home to Kyoto’s greatest spiritual love spot. 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.
There are many heart-shaped ema hung at the shrine.
Their son-in-law, Okuninushi-no-Mikoto, is also known as the god of enmusubi (*3). An Okuninushi Shrine is located in Yasaka Shrine as well.
Perhaps you will be blessed with great encounters by visiting Okuninushi Shrine.
This stone statue of Okuninushi-no-Mikoto rescuing an injured rabbit is a recreation of a famous scene from Japanese mythology.
*3 Enmusubi: The connections of fate and relationships between people.
Other Shrines That Can Be Visited at Yasaka Shrine
Okuninushi Shrine isn’t the only other shrine in Yasaka Shrine; there are many other yashiro (a building where a god resides) as well. We will introduce a portion of them.
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. More than 1200 years ago, Kyoto flourished as the metropolis of Japan. As a result, outstanding swords craftsmen gathered in Kyoto in large numbers. It was here where the craft of knife-making was developed before spreading throughout Japan.
A stone pillar is erected to represent the area as the birthplace of cutlery and knives.
This is where the god of cutlery and knives is enshrined. As he is the god of blades, there is a blessing that goes, “Carve out (your) future.”
2. Utsukushi-gozen Shrine: Become Beautiful in Both Mind and Body
Similarly, Utsukushi-gozen Shrine, also in Yasaka Shrine, is known as a spiritual beauty spot. Three goddesses collectively known as the Three Munakata Goddesses are worshiped at this shrine.
Ichikishimahime-no-Mikoto, known to be particularly beautiful even among the three goddesses, is worshiped as the goddess of beauty, entertainment, and economic fortune. Many of Kyoto’s maiko (apprentice geisha) and those concerned with their beauty visit this shrine.
Beauty Water flows in Utsukushi-gozen Shrine and is thought to be “water that can improve inner beauty and return your skin to its original complexion.” Let’s catch two or three drops of water and pat it on our skins to beautify both our mind and body.
Take Part in the July Gion Festival!
From: Kyoto’s Free Photo Collection (Japanese)
Summer in Kyoto means that it is time for the famous Gion Festival, one of Japan’s greatest 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 the festival.
It is a lively festival with large decorative yamaboko (a festival float with wheels) that travel through the streets of Kyoto. The festival annually takes place from July 1st to the 31st for the entirety of one month. If you are visiting Japan during the summer, definitely please travel to Kyoto to enjoy 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.
If you didn’t know of Yasaka Shrine, with the popular sightseeing spots Kiyomizu-dera and downtown Kyoto also nearby, why not try visiting when you next visit Kyoto?
Address: Kyoto city, Higashiyama, Gion Kitagawa 625
Access: 5-minute walk from Keihan Gion-Shijo Station, 8-minute walk from Hankyu Kawaramachi Station, or 15 minutes by car from JR Kyoto Station
Take the city bus no. 206 from JR Kyoto Station and immediately exit at Gion
Tokiwa Shinden Parking Lot: Open from 10:00-17:00 Lot Capacity – Approximately 40 cars
* There are no parking lots for large buses
Parking Fee - 600 yen for one hour
* Those receiving prayers and those who will be using the Tokiwa Shinden tea rooms will be given a ticket for one hour of free parking.
Website: Yasaka Shrine