We paid two visits to Yasaka-Jinja, one of the most famous shrines in Kyoto, Japan. Conveniently located in the east end of Shijō-dōri (Fourth Avenue) in Gion District in Higashiyama area, Yasaka shrine is renowned for its month-long festival called Gion Matsuri which started in 869 A.D. when the mikoshi or the divine palanquin of Gion Shrine were paraded through the streets of Kyoto to ward off an epidemic and the same practice has lived on until today. It is also a popular pilgrimage for Hatsumōde in the first week of January.
Yasaka-Jinja is believed to be built in the mid 9th century and has long been called “Gion-sha” or “Kansin-in“ until it was changed to its present name. According to Japan National Tourism Organization, the Main Hall of the shrine called yasaka-jinjan honden is designated as an Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government. It is said to be a rare building in the shinden-zukuri Yoshiki or the Gion-zukuri style which is only used for aristocrats.
But probably the most interesting feature of Yasaka Shrine is its subshrine called Utsukushi-gozensha. Utsukushi which means “beautiful”, gozen means “women” and sha means “shrine”. And in case you did not get the memo, this is the shrine for beautiful women. It is very popular with the apprentice geisha (maiko) and is most visited by people working in the beauty and cosmetics industry or simply those who are praying for, oh well, beauty. Catch a few drops of water from the fountain and pat them on your face, pray at the shrine and write your wish for beauty on the small wooden ‘ema’ plaque.
For a simple treat, below is a virtual tour of Yasaka Shrine so please enjoy:
We were initially planning to visit Kyoto for a week in early November, but our household goods haven’t yet arrived from the states. We are currently entertaining possibly visiting in Mid-January; what would your thoughts me about that timeframe? I am super-excited about spending some time in this city, but am worried about the winter. I know the spring is simply fabulous there, and maybe we should save the trip for then and see Tokyo instead?? Decisions, decisions. Your blogs about Kyoto are making me wanna go!
Hello Kevin and Jody. Thank you for visiting my blog. Mid-January sounds good but try seeing the city in autumn. It is said to be most beautiful at that time of the year when the maple leaves make Kyoto more picture perfect. Crowd is going to be a challenge though and hotel rates and everything just go up. We went there in summer and it was even crowded considering summer is already Kyoto’s lowest season. We are planning for another trip which we really hope to be in autumn to see the fall magic ourselves and then maybe head to Hokkaido. I suggest fly from Okinawa to Osaka, then take a train to Kyoto, and a bullet train to Tokyo and vice versa. If you are into temples and shrines like us, spend more days in Kyoto than Tokyo. I will also try to catch up with my blog so you will have more reference.
Thank you so much! We are planning on dedicating 5-7 days in Kyoto. We’ll give it a true this winter, but I want to check rates and tourist seasons first.