Nestled between the Gion District and Higashiyama, Yasaka Shrine is one of the most famous in Kyoto and is home Gion Festival held every summer.

Built in 656, the shrine is in front of Maruyama park and is popular for cherry blossom parties as well as a destination for hatsumode – the first shrine visit of the year. HUge crowds of people gather to take home a sacred flame to cook their first meal of the year in a practice known as okera maira. They are also well known for their setsubun traditions in early February and their lantern-covered stage is put to good use throughout the year. The imposing main gate is found at the end of Shijo-dori and the tori gate within is one of the largest in Japan. There are many weddings held here and it’s a good chance to see a traditional service, just ensure you keep your distance and don’t disrupt any of the processions.

Yasaka Shrine Stage
Photo by Kentaro Ohno used under CC