A Colorful Medley of Local Traditions at Yasaka Shrine

By Christina Kim - July 27, 2017


Every temple and shrine has their own story and are each unique in their own ways; not to mention held in importance in their standing in the historical city of Kyoto.

There is not one temple nor shrine which is less important, and every single one of them is just as important in making up the rich cultural and spiritual history of the ancient capital of Japan.

The list of temples and shrines is long for the city is literally almost filled with them that one can be found at almost every corner of the street.

Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社 Yasaka-jinja) is another notable one in the area; along the way I followed from Nanzenji.
It is a very old shrine; dating back to more than a thousand years ago since its beginnings and it is extremely popular among the locals.


It is hard to miss the shrine; the gaiety and colorful atmosphere along with the sounds of merriment and cheer in the air form the perfect formulae to draw attention to its existence.

Furthermore, the temple is located in an area of spotlight; being in the middle between the popular Gion district and Higashiyama district, and in close proximity to the famous Maruyama Park (renowned as a hanami (cherry blossom viewing) hotspot).
It was also formerly (and perhaps still locally) known as the Gion Shrine (祇園神社 Gion-jinja); named after the highly popular district nearby.

Unlike Nanzenji, the Yasaka Shrine is a Shinto shrine and incorporates a lot of cultural practices and customary rites; creating that colorful atmosphere within the site.

If there is anywhere to touch base with the local customs and worshipping rites, it would be right here in this very shrine for the locals (Shinto followers) flock to offer their prayers and perform their worship.




Top it off with its location, Yasaka Shrine is even considered by some as the spiritual heart of Kyoto.

Shinto, the ethnic religion native to Japan, is an institution of unique practices and rites which are incorporated into the concept founded upon an integration between the early beginnings of Japan and the modern day state in which it exists.

Shinto itself means "Japan's traditional religion" and it is, the largest or primary religion in the country with more than 80% of the population making up its group of believers, though not many would call themselves Shintoists directly.

The religion itself also boasts of a myriad of native beliefs, superstitions, mythology and such on which the concepts are formed.

Therefore it is unsurprising that there is just a long list of customary practices and even celebrations which are observed in the religion; thus creating a rather culturally rich and diversified religion.

Yasaka Shrine observes most of the festivals and draws the locals to its grounds during all the important occasions; especially the New Year, special intention prayers, for blessings, weddings, births among many others.

Many traditional customs and practices can be observed here at Yasaka Shrine too; mainly revolving around the Shinto religion but also the local and common Japanese practices.


Omairi(traditional Japanese practices when visiting a shrine), Temizu(water purification), Harae(purification), Kagura (spiritual dance performed by shamans) are just the few which can be observed here at Yakasa.
The highly regarded and world renowned yearly Matsuri festival also takes place here.

It is truly unique and colorful here; filled with cultural diversity and it is altogether a very enriching, insightful and localized experience.

This is truly the window to the local culture; connecting us to the hearts of the Japanese worship and traditions and away from the decorated tourism we see.

It is the best part and the ideal way to travel; making that local connection and fitting just right in to get the most of the country.

There is no better way to see a country than this, or at least, in my humble opinion.












Yakasa Shrine
Address: 625 Gion-machi, Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto Japan

Opening Hours: Always Open (24/7)

Admission Fees: None (Free of charge) 

*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

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