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Yasaka Shrine
八坂神社

At the eastern end of Shijō Street, contemporary Kyōto’s bustling center, and just at the heart of the preserved Gion entertainment district lies Yasaka Shrine. The shrine is visited by a large number of visitors, as it is located along the popular strolling path from Kiyomizu-dera in the south to Nanzen-ji in the north. The shrine hosts the annual Gion Festival in July, one of Kyōto’s and Japan’s three great festivals.
Just next to Maruyama Park, not many people know about the history of Yasaka Shrine. In fact, until the Meiji Period (1868–1912), the shrine was a temple, and its name was Gion-ji. The shrine fell victim to an early Meiji policy of “separating Buddha and Kami,” in which a large number of Buddhist artifacts were destroyed throughout the country to make way for an allegedly more “Japanese” Shintō. If you do know a bit about traditional shrine architecture, it is easy to see that Yasaka Shrine is in fact a Buddhist temple. More even, Maruyama Park used to be the temple’s splendid gardens. Today’s shape, however, is thus largely a product of Meiji “reforms,” of which Maruyama Park, as one of Japan’s first Western-style parks, is a good example.

Admission: shrine grounds open year-round
Nearby places of interest: Maruyama Park, Yasaka Pagoda, Kōdai-ji, Chion-in and Yūzen-en

A Maiko dance at Yasaka Shrine. March 2019.

A Maiko dance at Yasaka Shrine. March 2019.

Shrine Grounds 境内
Maiko Dance (March) / 舞妓による踊り
Festival 例祭
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