The shrine grounds for Yasaka are very impressive. They feature multiple buildings and many huge torii gates to represent the many entrances. Main sight of the shrine are the main hall and the offering hall towards the center of its grounds.
In front of those stands the dance stage with hundreds of lanterns around. I’m sure you’ve seen a picture of this as it’s beautifully lit at night. The lanterns were donated by individuals or businesses and have their respective names written on them.
With its close proximity to Gion, Yasaka Shrine is also called Gion shrine by some. The annual Gion Matsuri (Festival) originates from this shrine and dates back around 1,150 years. It’s one of the most well-known festivals of the entire country and is held in July. I’ve had the privilege to visit this festival in 2017 and I plan on going again in 2020.
Renting a yukata and strolling over the festive grounds is a lot of fun.
Commemorating this long age of Gion Matsuri, the shrine had a special Go-shuin-cho made. It is a book to hold your Go-shuin or red seal stamps that you can get at many shrines or temples. I talked about it in-depth in my Kyoto trip article. The wooden masterpiece is a beautiful piece of art and I’m very happy to own one. I’ll show you some pictures below.
Since Yasaka Shrine is where my passion for collecting these stamps began it will always have a special place in my heart.
Visiting the shrine during the Cherry blossom season in late March/early April is also very popular as the adjacent Maruyama park has tons of cherry trees for you to enjoy. And it’s all free of charge!
Not only the lanterns in the center, but also other shrine buildings and gates get illuminated during some nights in summer.
The Gion/Higashiyama area is a must-see area anyway so you’ll definitely want to stop by Yasaka Shrine!
Opening Hours & Admission fee
- Opened all day around
- Entrance is free of charge
- There are no closing days throughout the year
Want to look like this woman in the picture above and gracefully walk the streets of traditional Gion?
Then head over to Voyagin and book your own personal make-up artist that does the magic for you. Complete the setting with fitting clothing and accessories. You can also have professional photos made for you.
How to get to Yasaka Shrine
Kyoto’s main means of transportation is the bus. Starting from Kyoto Station (京都駅), take bus number 100 or 206 and get off at Gion bus stop. The journey takes about 20 minutes and costs 230 Yen (1,90€/$2.11; exchange rate as of January 2020).
It’s also possible to reach it by train of course, the nearest train station is Gion Shijo Station which is about 5 minutes away from the shrine. Take the Nara Line towards Tofukuji Station where you then transfer to the Keihan Main line. Riding the bus is less of a hassle though so go for that if you can.
Alternatively, you can reach the shrine by foot if you’re already planning on visiting Kiyomizudera (清水寺) or other sights in Higashiyama. From here, it’s a pleasant 20-30-minute walk to Yasaka Shrine. Highly recommended!
In combination with the adjacent Maruyama park and nearby Gion and Higashiyama districts, it is a must-visit. It’s free to enter and offers great illuminations and photo opportunities.
As it is so conveniently located, you can easily combine it with just about any other landmark in the vicinity. This just goes to show how rich of culture and history this eastern area of Kyoto really is.
That’s it for Yasaka Shrine, I hope you enjoyed it!
For now, the next article is going to be about Tokyo’s (東京) Rikugien Gardens. Stay tuned!