Yasaka Jinja Shrine
Yasaka Jinja Shrine is a major Shinto shrine in the historical Gion district of Kyoto City. In fact, it is the head of all Yasaka shrines in Japan, and it has been protecting the city since even before the Heian period. There are a number of theories regarding the shrine’s founding, but according to shrine legend, an envoy from the Korean Peninsula enshrined Susanoo-no-Mikoto here in 656. Another legend says that the shrine was established in 876 when Enyo, a priest from Nara, installed statues of deities in the temple hall.
The main hall is built in a distinctive architectural style called gion-zukuri, and it is also designated as a National Important Cultural Property. There is also a legend that says that there is a large pond located under the main sanctuary, and inhabiting this pond is a blue dragon that has been protecting the capital since long ago. At the top of the eastern pillar of the main hall is a sculpture of the dragon, and it is said that if one faces it and claps their hands, the echo sounds as if the dragon is responding.
Located just next to the shrine is Maruyama Koen Park, another popular sightseeing spot. It is the oldest park in Kyoto City, and the elegant views of its Japanese-style gardens and cherry blossoms in spring has led it to be selected as a National Place of Scenic Beauty. The park is also famous as the site of the Gion Festival, one of the three major festivals of Kyoto. The festival takes place during July and is one of the most popular summer events of the area, boasting any number of elegant rituals and festivities.
The shrine itself is open to the public around the clock and has no admissions fee. At night, countless paper lanterns illuminate the grounds, creating a soothing atmosphere. During events, the shrine grounds will house plenty of stalls selling food, drinks, and souvenirs.
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