Yasaka Shrine (Gion Matsuri,location,history)

Yasaka Shrine, Gion Matsuri

The information about Yasaka Shrine is presented here. Yasaka Shrine is famous for hosting Gion Matsuri Festival (Gion Festival), one of the three major festivals in Japan and Kyoto. In 2016, Gion Matsuri Festival (Gion Festival), including Yamahoko-Junko (Yamaboko Procession), was inscribed on the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Incidentally, Gion Matsuri Festival (Gion Festival) began in 869 and is said to have a history of 1,150 years.

【Yasaka Shrine Location Map & Directions】

Address: 625 Gion-machi kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Gion bus stop (short walk), Keihan Gion Shijo Station (about 5 minutes on foot), Hankyu Kyoto Kawaramachi Station (about 8 minutes on foot), Subway Shijo Station (about 20 minutes on foot)

Yasaka Shrine is located northeast of Kyoto Station and is enshrined at the eastern end of Shijo-dori. It is recommended to take the city bus from Kyoto Station.

【Opening Hours & Closed (confirmation required)】

Opening Hours: 24 Hour
Closed: open year round

【Entrance Fees & Tickets (confirmation required)】


【Yasaka Shrine History】

The origin of Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社) is not clear. Yasaka Shrine was founded in 656 when Irishi-Omi, who came to Japan from Korai, enshrined Susano-no-mikoto, who was enshrined on Mt. Gozu in Shiragi, in Yasaka-Go, Otagi-gun, Yamashiro Province. Yasaka Shrine is said to have originated in 876 when a monk named Ennyo, built a small hall and enshrined a statue of Yakushi Nyorai (the Medicine Buddha), and in the same year Tenjin (Gion-no-kami) descended to the Gion-bayashi (forest) at the foot of Higashiyama. In 869, Gion Goryo-e was held in Shinsen-en to quell an epidemic that had spread throughout the country, including Kyoto. This Gion Goryoe is said to be the origin of Gion Matsuri Festival (Gion Festival). When an epidemic broke out in 877, an imperial envoy was sent to a small shrine (Yasaka Shrine) to pray, and the epidemic stopped, which is said to have triggered the development of Yasaka Shrine. In the same year, Fujiwara no Mototsune donated a mansion and built the Shojya (small hall), which is said to have been named “Kanshin-in”. In 974, Ohmandokoro-Otabisho was built by order of the 64th Emperor Ennyo, and Gion Matsuri Festival (Gion Festival) is said to have become an imperial festival. In the same year, Yasaka Shrine is said to have become a branch temple of Enryaku-ji Temple. By the way, Yasaka Shrine, which previously belonged to Kofuku-ji Temple in Nara, but belonged to Enryaku-ji Temple. In 995, Yasaka Shrine was listed as one of the 21 shrines protecting the royal castle (Imperial Palace). In 1070, the precincts of Yasaka Shrine were designated as Mt. Shirakawa-yama in the east, Gojo-dori (Matsubara-dori) in the south, Kamo-gawa River in the west, and Sanjo-dori in the north. In 1072, the 71st Emperor Go-Sanjo made his first visit to Yasaka Shrine, and since then successive emperors have visited the shrine. In the early Kamakura period (1185-1333), Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shogun of the Kamakura shogunate, dedicated koma-inu (guardian dogs) to Yasaka Shrine. During Onin War (1467-1477) in the middle of the Muromachi period (1333-1568), shrine buildings ware destroyed by fire and Gion Matsuri Festival (Gion Festival) was suspended for 33 years. Gion Matsuri Festival (Gion Festival) was revived on a reduced a smaller scale in 1500, and it is said that Kujitori-aratame (Kujitori-shiki, lottery system) began. It is said that in 1590, Toyotomi Hideyoshi rebuilt Gion Daito (Gion pagoda) and prayed for his mother’s recovery from illness. Toyotomi Hideyoshi also donated 10,000 koku, and Yasaka Shrine, which had fallen into disrepair during the Sengoku period (1467-1590), was rebuilt. In May 1646, the Edo shogunate repaired Honden (Main Shrine), but it was destroyed by fire in November of the same year. In 1654, Tokugawa Ietsuna, the 4th shogun of the Edo shogunate, rebuilt Honden (Main Shrine). After the Meiji Restoration, due to the separation of Shintoism and Buddhism and Haibutsu-kishaku, Kanshin-in Temple was closed and its Buddhist rituals were abolished, and the name of the company was changed to Yasaka Shrine. Yasaka Shrine was once said to be “Gion Jinjya (祇園神社)”, “Gion Sha (祇園社)”, “Gion Kanshin-in (祇園感神院)”, and etc. The names of “Gion Jinjya”, “Gion Sha”, and “Gion Kanshin-in” are derived from the fact that Gozutenno, the god of Yasaka Shrine, was the guardian deity of Gion Shojya, where Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, preached.
*reference・・・Yasaka Shrine website

【Yasaka Shrine Highlights (May be undisclosed)】

★Honden (Main Shrine, 本殿, National Treasure) was rebuilt in 1654 by Tokugawa Ietsuna, the 4th shogun of the Edo Shogunate. Honden is about 400 tsubo and 15 meters high. Honden enshrines Susano-no-mikoto on the center throne, Kushi-inadahime-no-mikoto on the east throne, and Yahashi-no-mikogami (eight children of Susano-no-mikoto) on the west throne.
★Nishi-Romon (Nishi-Romon Gate, 西楼門, Important Cultural Property) was destroyed by fire during the Onin War and rebuilt in 1497. Nishi-Romon is a vermilion-painted gate about 9 meters high. At Nishi-Romon, there are two wooden statues of Zuishin, who served as an escort for the nobles of the Heian period (794-1185).
★Buden (舞殿, Important Cultural Property) was built in 1903. In Buden, dedication ceremonies are held, and Mikoshi are enshrined during Gion Matsuri Festival (Gion Festival). Buden is decorated with lanterns dedicated from ryo-tei (restaurant) and Hanamachi oki-ya.
Yasaka Shrine Highlights

【Events (confirmation required)】

★Gion-no-Ebessan (祇園のえべっさん) is held every year on January 9th and 10th. At Gion-no-Ebessan, fukuzasa (lucky bamboo branches) are awarded. Fukuzasa are decorated with lucky charms such as ohban, koban, tai (sea bream), and tawara (bales), and bring good luck for business prosperity and family safety. In Yoi-Ebisu, Ebisu-sen (ship) with the seven lucky gods and Fukumusume, Gion Taiko, etc. are paraded.
★Setsubun-sai (節分祭) is held every year on Setsubun and the day before. At Setsubun-sai, maiko from Gion-Kobe, Ion-Higashi, Ponto-cho, and Miyagawa-cho perform dances, and maiko and other performers throw beans.
★Gion Matsuri Festival (Gion Festival, 祇園祭) is held every year on July 17th for Former Festival Yamahoko-Junko (Yamaboko Procession) and Shinko-sai, and on July 24th for Latter Festival Yamahoko-Junko (Yamaboko Procession) and Kanko-sai. Former Festival Yamahoko-Junko consists of 23 floats led by Naginatahoko, and Latter Festival Yamahoko-Junko consists of 11 floats led by Hashibenkeiyama.
Gion Matsuri Festival Schedule (July 1st-31st)

【Flower Calendar (cherry blossoms, etc )】

★The best time to see cherry blossoms (桜) is from late March to early April. Yasaka Shrine does not have many cherry trees, but Somei-Yoshino, double cherry blossoms and other cherry trees are planted, and it is said that the cherry blossoms and Minami-Romon, Buden, Shinba-sha, Minami-Temizusha, and the approach to the shrine are beautiful.
(The best time to see the plants depends on the climate of the year.)

【Telephone (Please refrain from making phone calls.)】

Tel: +81-75-561-6155 (Yasaka Shrine)

【Recommended Walking Route】

The recommended walking route from Yasaka Shrine is via Nene-no-michi, Ninen-zaka, and Sanen-zaka to Kiyomizu-dera Temple. There are Kodai-ji Temple and Yasaka-no-to (Hokan-ji Temple) near the route, so a detour is recommended. It is also recommended to walk west along Shijo-dori towards Gion, Hanamachi (Kagai) district. Gion developed as the Monzen-machi (Torii-machi) of Yasaka Shrine.

【Remarks(access, parking, disclaimer, etc)】
If you plan to visit Yasaka Shrine, be sure to check the latest information.


  1. 錦市場(Nishiki Market)
  2. 竹林の道(Bamboo Forest Path)
  3. 嵐山