KYO: Heian Jingu Shrine

Heian Jingu Shrine

Honestly speaking, this shrine never moved my heart even it was very popular shrine for strangers. I can say that the huge vermilion Torii Gate sticks out in people’s mind, and my impression towards this shrine is, something like “pomp-filled”. Probably, there are people who like that kind of mood, so please don’t get any wrong ideas that this shrine is not recommendable. For me, shrines are the place to face the gods or my personal spirits, so it just did not moved me.
My last visit was on a very hot summer day in 2011. (I guess I missed the best season!). I started walking from Sanjodori street, because I always like to enter from the huge Torii Gate. Then, I walked a few hundred meters, and went through the Otemon gate. First, the large gravelly forecourt jumped to my eyes. I walked straight ahead to the main building to honor the god. Sorry to say that, but I have no specific feeling for those emperors…. Anyhow, I was looking forward to visit the garden today. I walked all the four; the south, the west, the middle, and the east. After visited all the gardens, I felt that it was nice, but I should have visited probably in spring or early summer. Even it was a hot, summer day with sun-shine, I could not even enjoy the greenery on that day. By the way, the south is one of the greatest ones with cherry blossoms. Also, the garden features plants which appear in Heian period literary works, and people can think of the dynastic culture. The west garden is famous for thousands of irises. It is nice to visit in the early summer. The middle garden is also nice to visit in the early summer. The pond is filled with lilies. In the east, there is a huge pond called Seiho-ike, surrounded by double cherry blossoms, japonica, and other flowering trees and shrubs. In conclusion, I think the best season to admire those flowers and trees in this garden is, spring or early summer. I used to visit here at night in spring to enjoy a fantastic cherry blossom concert! If you have any chance to visit in the beginning of April, I would recommend to join that concert.

This shrine was constructed in 1895 to commemorate 1100 years since Emperor Kammu transferred the capital to Kyoto in 794. Emperor Kammu is enshrined as the shrine’s divinity. Emperor Komei, the last emperor to rule from Kyoto, was also deified here in 2600th year of the imperial line (1940). The shrine is about two-thirds scale replica of the Chodo-in, which was the center of administration in Heiankyo (Kyoto was called “Heiankyo” when the capital was here.)  Main structures include the two storied Otemon Gate and the single-storied Daigokuden, which stands behind the Otemon Gate. Displaying a hipped and gabled roof, Daigokuden is a Worshipper’s Hall. Towers stand to the east and west of Daigokuden; Soryu-ro to the east, and Byakko-ro to the west. Heian Jingu structures are meticulously researched reproductions of Heian-Period architecture. The shrine is designated as a Kyoto City Cultural Asset. Behind the main buildings is the Shinsen-En Garden, and expanse of four gardens covering about 30,000 square meters. Designed for walking-in, the gardens express landscaping styles of the Meiji era. Each garden is centered on a pond and depicts a different period of Kyoto history. The garden is a national Place of Scenic Beauty.

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When you visit here, I would like to suggest these;
- To visit there in spring, or early summer. (The night concert in April with cherry blossom viewing is also great.)
- To access on foot from Sanjodori street to admire the huge Torii Gate