Yasaka Shrine Gion City Kyoto
If you planning to visit Kiyomizudera temple in Kyoto, you will need to go to Gion and eventually you will pass by the Yasaka Shrine.
The Yasaka Shrine is once called Gion Shrine and is a shrine in the Gion Disctrict of Kyoto. It is situated at the east end of Shijo-dori (means Forth Avenue) is near the Gion’s train station Gion Shijo (Keihan Line).
It took us one an half hour to travel from Namba, Osaka to Gion Shijo, Kyoto with a few train changes. If you are not sure on which station to change train, please talk to the train conductor at the entrance of each train station. Most of them can speak simple English and please take a note on which station you need to switch trains. One of the best passes around is the Kansai Thru Pass, you can read about it at Kansai Thru Pass Review and Where to Buy?
The Gion Shijo station is located in the middle of the busy city of Kyoto so when you exit the station, you will be amazed by the beauty of this city. When you exit the station, turn left and keep on walking straight.
Direction to Yasaka Shrine from Gion Shijo Station.
Near the station, there is a restaurant worth a visit. It is called Issen Yoshoku and having a snack is recommended. Read more of Issen Yoshoku at Issen Yoshoku Review, Gion Kyoto Japan.
If you are lucky enough, you will bump to Maiko and Geisha on the streets of Gion. Some of my friends had visited Kyoto numerous times but never bumped to them even once. Well, we were the lucky few as we bumped to a group of them. View their pictures at Geisha and Maiko in Gion Kyoto.
Keep on walking straight on the Shijo Dori street and you will end up on the T junction. Yasaka Shrine stands majestically opposite of the road.
Picture of Rachel, friend Lena and Mariko with the locals.
The shrine’s entrance is colored with striking red so it is quite impossible that you will miss it. It is a tourist hot spot so you can see many tourists and locals near the entrance.
Since it is a Shinto shrine, you can do the “omairi”. Omairi is to bow respectively at any entrance before passing through.
Then at the hand washing basin provided near the entrance, you can perform “Temizu”. Temizu means taking the water dipper in your right hand and scoop up the water and pour some onto your left hand and transfer the dipper to your left hand pour left hand and pour some onto your right hand. Transfer the dipper to your right hand again, cup your left palm, and pour water into it, from which you will take the water into your mouth (never drink directly from the dipper), silently swish it around in your mouth (do not drink), then quietly spit it out into your cupped left hand (not into the reservoir). Then, holding the handle of the dipper in both hands, turn it vertically so that the remaining water washes over the handle. Then replace it where you found it. Well, that is the proper way of doing it but I drank the water.
Approach the shrine; if there is a bell, you may ring the bell first (or after depositing a donation); if there is a box for donations, leave a modest one in relation to your means; then bow twice, clap twice, and hold the second clap with your hands held together in front of your heart for a closing bow after your prayers.
If you see the joss stick stand with lots of smoke, you can use your hands to fan the smoke to your body. It is believed that it will bring goodness (if not mistaken). You will see many Japanese doing that.
Initial construction on the Shrine began in 656. The Shrine became the object of Imperial patronage during the early Heian period. In 965, Emperor Murakami ordered that Imperial messengers were sent to report important events to the guardian kami of Japan. These heihaku were initially presented to 16 shrines; and in 991, Emperor Ichijō added three more shrines to Murakami’s list. Three years later in 994, Ichijō refined the scope of that composite list by adding Umenomiya Shrine and Gion Shrine.
From 1871 through 1946, the Yasaka Shrine was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha (官幣大社), meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines. – Wikipedia.org
Rachel with the fortune telling wooden box. It is 200 Yen for fortune telling.
There is one thing you can do in Yasaka Shrine. There is a fortune telling ritual but you have to pay for it. It is 200 Yen for each time. It is a wooden box of numbered sticks but do please ask on which wooden box to take as it is categorized for men and women in Japanese. Take the wooden box and pray and shake it until a stick comes out from the hole.
Take the numbered stick to the counter to change for your “report”. It is a single sheet of white paper with your “predicition”. This is similar with Chinese temples’ fortune telling ritual. The bad news is the report is in Japanese so you need to find someone in the counter to translate for you.
Other than that, you can enjoy the beauty of the temple and also the surrounding area. After Yasaka Shrine you can continue your journey to the UNESCO Heritage Listed Kiyomizudera.
Yasaka Shrine Gion City Kyoto Address and Map:
625 Gion-machi, Kitagawa, Kyoto, Japan
View Yasaka Shrine Gion City Kyoto in a larger map