Kyoto Tourist Attractions: How to enjoy Yasaka Shrine

sightseeing

Introduction

Kyoto is a beautiful city steeped in Japanese traditions and culture, and its attractions are a source of fascination for visitors. One of the most famous tourist attractions is Yasaka Shrine. Yasaka Shrine has a history of more than 1,000 years and is a popular spot visited by many tourists and locals every year. The shrine is known for its beautiful grounds, magnificent architecture, and a place where visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of the four seasons.
One of the greatest attractions of Yasaka Shrine is its grand festival, the Gion Matsuri. Held annually in July, this festival is one of the three major festivals in Japan, and its highlights include the colorful procession of Yamahoko floats and traditional ceremonies. The area surrounding Yasaka Shrine is also home to the elegant Hanamikoji Street and the streets of Gion, where visitors can feel as if they have stepped back in time to the good old days of Japan just by strolling through the streets.
This article details the history, charm, and highlights of Yasaka Shrine. We also explain the key points of interest when visiting, recommended times of day, and how to enjoy each season. A visit to Yasaka Shrine will make your trip to Kyoto even more special.

History and Culture of Tourist Attractions

Yasaka Shrine is located in the heart of Kyoto and has a history spanning more than 1,000 years. Its founding dates back to 656 in the early Heian period (794-1185), and it has been worshipped by many people throughout its long history. The shrine enshrines Susanoo-no-mikoto as its main deity, and is widely believed to be the god of warding off bad luck and driving away plague and disease.
The Gion Festival is an essential part of Yasaka Shrine’s history. The Gion Festival is a traditional event that has continued since the Heian period (794-1185), and is held during the month of July. The Gion Matsuri is a traditional event that has been held since the Heian period (794-1185), and it is a major event that attracts many tourists from both Japan and abroad. This festival is said to have started as a way to quell an epidemic and remains an important cultural event for the local people.
The grounds of Yasaka Shrine are also dotted with beautiful Japanese gardens and traditional architecture, allowing visitors to experience the good old days of Japanese culture. The seasonal scenery is also not to be missed. The cherry blossoms are in full bloom in spring, lush greenery in summer, autumn leaves in fall, and snowy landscapes in winter, offering a different look each time you visit.

Places to visit

Recommended time of year

The best times to visit Yasaka Shrine are spring and fall. In spring, the shrine grounds are decorated with beautiful cherry blossoms, and in fall, visitors are enchanted by the brilliant autumn leaves. Another time not to be missed is during the Gion Festival in July. During this period, the whole of Kyoto is enveloped in a festive atmosphere, and the Yamahoko-junko procession is especially spectacular.

Main Highlights and Popular Sightseeing Spots

The main attraction of Yasaka Shrine is the main hall. Designated as an Important Cultural Property, the building features a beautiful vermilion-lacquered exterior and a solemn atmosphere inside. Also not to be missed is the main gate of the shrine, the Nanro-mon Gate. Known for its dignified structure and beautiful carvings, this gate is a popular photo spot.
In addition, many small shrines and companies are scattered throughout the Yasaka Shrine grounds, each dedicated to a different deity. For example, there is a “Knot Shrine,” which is famous as the god of beautiful love fulfillment, and a “Shrine of Longevity,” which prays for health and longevity. By visiting these shrines, you will be able to obtain various benefits.

Points to keep in mind when visiting

As a precaution when visiting, Yasaka Shrine is crowded with many tourists throughout the year, so it is recommended to avoid crowded times of the day. Especially on weekends and holidays, the shrine is crowded with many people, so visiting early in the morning or in the evening will allow you to visit the shrine relatively quietly. It is also important to be courteous while on the grounds of the shrine and to remember that it is a sacred place.

Access

Access to Yasaka Shrine is very convenient and can be easily reached from Kyoto Station. Below are the directions from Kyoto Station to Yasaka Shrine.

Access from Kyoto Station

Yasaka Shrine is conveniently accessible by city bus and train. You can use the following methods to get there:

Using city bus

  • City Bus No. 206: Take City Bus No. 206 (bound for Gion/Kitaoji Bus Terminal) from Kyoto Station bus stop and get off at Gion bus stop. The trip takes about 20 minutes. From the bus stop to Yasaka Shrine is about a 2-minute walk.
  • City Bus No. 100 (express): Take City Bus No. 100 (express bound for Ginkakuji) from the Kyoto Station bus stop and get off at the Gion stop. The trip takes about 20 minutes. From the bus stop to Yasaka Shrine is about a 2-minute walk.

By train

  • Keihan Main Line: From Kyoto Station, take the JR Nara Line, change to the Keihan Main Line at Tofukuji Station, and get off at Gion Shijo Station. The trip takes about 15 minutes. From Gion-Shijo Station to Yasaka Shrine is approximately a 10-minute walk.

Using a cab

  • It takes about 10 minutes from Kyoto Station to Yasaka Shrine by cab. Cabs are also convenient if you have a lot of luggage or if public transportation is crowded.

Bicycle rental

  • Bicycle rentals are widely available in Kyoto. One option is to rent a bicycle near Kyoto Station and ride it to Yasaka Shrine. The trip takes about 15 minutes. We recommend this method of transportation as it allows you to enjoy the scenery of Kyoto while sightseeing.

Either way, access to Yasaka Shrine is easy and comfortable. Use public transportation, a cab, or a bicycle to visit Yasaka Shrine while enjoying the beautiful scenery of Kyoto.

Hours of Operation, Admission Fees

Yasaka Shrine is open year-round as a tourist attraction in Kyoto and can be visited 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Therefore, it is possible to enjoy the shrine in the quiet early morning hours or at night when it is illuminated. Early morning is especially recommended for many visitors, as it is a time when you can avoid the crowds and visit the shrine at your leisure.

As for admission fees, the Yasaka Shrine grounds are open to the public free of charge, and anyone is welcome to visit. However, there may be an additional fee for special events or prayers. For more detailed information on fees for some of the smaller shrines and fee-based facilities on the grounds, it is recommended that you check the official website or visit the site.

When visiting Yasaka Shrine, it is a good idea to plan your day in conjunction with the surrounding tourist attractions. For example, nearby are the Gion area, where you can enjoy the traditional streets of Kyoto, and the Higashiyama area, where historical buildings are concentrated. By visiting these places as well, you can fully enjoy the charms of Kyoto.

Gourmet

When you visit Yasaka Shrine, be sure to enjoy the delicious gourmet food available in the area. There are many restaurants where you can enjoy the unique flavors of Kyoto. Below are some restaurants and eateries that are especially recommended for foreign tourists.

Gion Nishimura

Gion Nishimura is a famous restaurant where you can enjoy traditional Kyoto kaiseki cuisine. Delicately prepared using carefully selected seasonal ingredients, the dishes look beautiful and taste exceptional. Popular among foreign tourists, it is a great place to enjoy traditional Japanese food culture.

Tempura Yasaka Endo

Tempura Yasaka Endo is a great place to enjoy tempura. Tempura made with fresh seafood and vegetables has a light and crispy texture. The English menu is easy to understand for foreign tourists, making it an easy place to visit.

Gion Tsujiri Main Branch

Gion Tsujiri Honten is famous for its matcha sweets. It offers a wide variety of menu items such as matcha parfait and matcha jelly, all of which are authentic in taste. You can enjoy Kyoto’s unique sweets in a store with a Japanese atmosphere.

Icchan Okonomiyaki

For Kyoto-style okonomiyaki, “Okonomiyaki Icchan” is the perfect choice. The okonomiyaki with fluffy dough and plenty of ingredients is popular even among foreign tourists. The style in which the chef prepares the okonomiyaki right in front of you is another attraction.

Gion Tsuruya

Gion Tsuruya is a restaurant where you can enjoy Kyoto-style obanzai cuisine. The obanzai (small dishes) using seasonal ingredients are healthy and rich in variety. You can enjoy your meal in a relaxed atmosphere.

Shopping

There are many shopping spots around Yasaka Shrine that offer a wide variety of specialties and souvenirs unique to Kyoto. Here we introduce a selection of items popular among foreign tourists.

Kyoto Confectionery

First, there are Kyoto’s traditional Japanese sweets. At the long-established wagashi stores Kagizen Ryobo and Gion Tsujiri, you can purchase wagashi with a beautiful appearance and elegant taste. In particular, sweets made with matcha green tea and seasonal limited editions are sure to be appreciated as souvenirs.

Kyo-yaki and Kiyomizu-yaki Ware

Kyo-yaki and Kiyomizu-yaki, Kyoto’s famous traditional crafts, are also highly recommended. Kiyomizu-zaka” and “Gion area” are lined with many pottery stores. Beautiful tea bowls and teacups are both practical and highly valuable as crafts. One can feel the warmth of handmade products, making them ideal as special souvenirs.

Yatsuhashi

Yatsuhashi, a classic Kyoto souvenir, is available at Honke Nishio Yatsuhashi and Izutsu Yatsuhashi Honpo. There are many variations, such as cinnamon-flavored fresh yatsuhashi, green tea flavor, and seasonal flavors. Because they are easy to carry, they are convenient as souvenirs to give away to many people.

Kyoto Yuzen

Kyo-yuzen, a traditional dyeing technique, is characterized by its beautiful patterns. Handkerchiefs, scarves, and accessories can be purchased at long-established shops such as Chiso and Marukyu Koyamaen. These items are suitable for everyday use as well as a reminder of traditional craftsmanship.

Tea

Kyoto is famous for its matcha (powdered green tea). Ippodo and Tsujiri teas are of high quality and make special gifts. In addition to matcha, you can choose from a variety of teas, such as sencha and hojicha, and enjoy tasting them while making your selection.

Handmade Crafts

At the Kyoto Design House and Kyoto Crafts Museum, visitors can purchase handicrafts made by local artisans. The works of art include woodwork, textiles, metalwork, and many other genres, all of which are highly skilled and uniquely designed. Visitors will enjoy finding a special piece of art.

The shopping area around Yasaka Shrine offers a wide variety of specialties and souvenirs that give visitors a sense of Kyoto’s traditions and culture. Stop by during your sightseeing to find a souvenir that you will remember for a long time.

Summary

Located in the heart of Kyoto, Yasaka Shrine has a history of over 1,000 years and can be visited 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no admission fee. The cherry blossoms in spring and the autumn leaves in fall are especially beautiful, and the Gion Festival in July is not to be missed. It is within walking distance from the nearest station and easily accessible from Narita and Haneda airports. There are many cafes and restaurants in the area where you can enjoy delicious Japanese food and sweets. There are also a wide variety of specialties and souvenirs unique to Kyoto, such as Kyoto sweets and Kyo-yaki pottery. We hope you will visit Yasaka Shrine on your trip to Kyoto.