5 Tips to Enjoy Your Visit to Yasaka Jinja Shrine
Yasaka Shrine, known as ‘Gion-san’, is located at the core of Gion district, Kyoto. The shrine grants so many types of fortune, such as good luck, the well-being of the family, good marriage, success in business and so on. Having been loved by local people for a long time as well as tourists, the shrine is always crowded with people praying for fortunes.
No.1 The Two Gates
The west gate, Seiroumon (西楼門), is that everyone might imagine when thinking about Yasaka Jinja Shrine. However, the official entrance is the south gate. It’s called Nanroumon (南楼門). Although the west gate catches people’s eyes because of their red color and location, entering from the formal gate is thought to be the best way when visiting the shrine. When you face the west gate, you’ll see a slope on the right side leading you to the south gate. Entering from the south gate and leaving from the west gate, will enable to get the best view of Gion, where you can take photos of the landmark spot of Gion is our recommended route.
The west gate
The south gate
No.2 Gion Matsuri Festival
This shrine is the host of the most famous festival in Kyoto, Gion Matsuri. The origin of Gion Matsuri dated back to the year 877 during Heian Period, when Yasaka Shrine calmed down the spread of an epidemic. As you may know, there are many things during the festival, such as parades of gorgeous floats, food stalls in the evenings, and ritual ceremonies. However, if you want to feel the roots of this festival, we recommend you to get Chimaki, the charm for health throughout the year, which is specially sold at the festival.
No.3 Hatsumoude, the first visit to shrine in the year
New Year’s Day is probably the shrine’s busiest day in the year. At the night of New Year’s Eve, they start setting a sacred fire in a pot of Okera, a plant and the symbol of sound health, and keep it burning all the night. In the early morning on new year’s day, people come and catch the fire with a rope of straw, and take it home carefully so as not to get the fire extinct. This is because fire is believe to be the symbol of sound health. For safety, only local people are allowed to get and take the fire home, but it is for sure a great experience to see the ritual and feel the new-year vibes of Kyoto!
No.4 Setsubun Matsuri Festival
Setsubun is a traditional annual event to get rid of bad luck, which is represented by oni, demon, by scattering dried soy beans. Setsubun Matsuri in Yasaka Jinja Shrine is held on the 2nd and 3rd February every year. You can see traditional dance performance of Maiko in colorful and elegant kimono, which makes you feel the visit of early spring. You may want to get fortune beans to wish good health (or you can even eat them). Also, the beans are accompanied by a lottery ticket, so let’s try your luck!
No.5 Beauty Power Spot
There is a small shrine dedicated to three beauty gods. It is said that if you pay a visit here, youwill become prettier. Also at the side of the shrine, you will find a fountain of beauty water, Biyousui. When you put it on your face, just like a toner, not only your skin but your heart become purer and more beautiful. Since Yasaka Shrine also enshrine the god of marriage, how about making a visit for preparation for meeting Mr. Right?