OWL Magazine Korea

Kyoto Gion, Yasaka Shrine Hosting Gion Matsuri (2023)

Continuing east from the Gion main street, the central commercial district of Kyoto, along the Kiyomizu main street, you’ll come across a large shrine known as Yasaka Shrine. Originally called Gion Shrine, it later adopted the name Yasaka Shrine.

“Important Shrine in Kyoto, Yasaka Shrine”

Yasaka Shrine is located at the eastern end of the Shijo-dori shopping street in Kyoto, and its name is derived from the temple “Kiwon-ji” in Shurabastan, India. It is said that the deity Udzunowakami, who protects Kiwon-ji, came to Japan, merged with Susano-no-mo, and gained significant divine status.

Yasaka Shrine holds a crucial position in Japan, receiving protection from rulers of the Fujiwara clan to Tokugawa Ieyasu. Even in modern times, it is designated as a shrine for imperial offerings known as “Kanpei Taisha.”

“Shrine with Over 1100 Years of History”

Yasaka Shrine boasts a history of over 1100 years. It is particularly revered as a shrine for warding off epidemics and disasters, also known as “Gion-sama.”

“Gion Matsuri, Rooted in Wishing for Epidemic Prevention”

In Japan, there is a traditional event called “Matsuri,” and Yasaka Shrine is where the Gion Matsuri event takes place. This event spans the entire month of July every year, known as the “Matsuri” season. Gion Matsuri has its roots in wishing for the prevention of epidemics. Starting with “Kamifusai-ra” on July 1st, the festival culminates in “Eki-jinja-nagoshi-matsuri” on the 31st.

During the festival period, there is also a procession called “Yamaboko,” featuring floats. In this way, Kyoto is always bustling with people during the Gion season in July, making securing accommodations a challenge.

“Revisiting Yasaka Shrine in 2023”

During my recent trip to Kyoto in 2023, I had the chance to revisit Yasaka Shrine. When I visited in 2018, I arrived quite late, allowing me to appreciate the nighttime view of Yasaka Shrine. This time, I visited during the day, enjoying the daytime scenery. However, having visited before, I didn’t stay for an extended period and quickly moved on. I wanted to explore Maruyama Park accessible through Yasaka Shrine.

In 2018, visiting at a late hour may have contributed to the quiet atmosphere. This time, visiting during the day, I experienced a livelier ambiance with a larger crowd.

“Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto, Japan”

  • Address: 625 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0073, Japan
  • Phone: +81 75-561-6155
  • Website: Yasaka Shrine