KYO: Yasaka Jinja Shrine

Yasaka Jinja Shrine

This shrine is indispensable for me, and probably for the people in Kyoto. I visited there at the end of 2011, and I could look back the year, and steeled for making more efforts to achieve the goal in 2012.

It stands at the edge of the main street of Kyoto city, Shijodori Street. It is a traffic area, but nobody feels unreasonable to see that kind of combination of old and new. It is one of the attractive aspects of visiting Kyoto. Anyway, I have visited Yasaka-san (I usually call it with affinity.), so many time since I was born, whenever I have a chance. In spring, I often visit there and also enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms at the Maruyama Koen Park, right behind this shrine. In summer, I feel the bracing air to have the coming summer, because we have the Gion Matsuri Festival. (Every July, the festival is held to drive away evil spirits (=in this case, diseases), and to survive the hot summer and this shrine enshrines the god to save the people from diseases.) In autumn, many children come here, as Shichi (7) Go (5) San (3) Mairi, to pray for their well-beings. Girls of 7 & 3 years old and boys of 5 years old come here to celebrate. (It can be celebrated in any shrine in Japan. Anyhow, I came here when I was 3 and 7 years old!) In winter, many people come here for the Hatsumode Visit, the New Year’s visit to a shrine. Other than those milestones, I often come here to thank for the god, and swear by god to live in a righteous manner.

By the way, I also like to visit there at night. Normally, shrines should be visited before 15:00pm, but for me, here is an exceptional place. At night, we can enjoy the beautiful paper lanterns with the names who donated to the shrine. Not only viewing as the night-light, I love to see those names one by one. If you stay in Kyoto for a few days, how about stopping by this shrine after dinner.
 Finally, even I visited there so many times, I have never visited there at the New Year’s Eve (on 31st of December). I wish it will come true in the future to visit this shrine on 31st of December. Between the evenings of 31st of December to and 1st of January, the “Okera-Mairi” Festival is organized and lots of people come to pray for good health for the New Year by receiving “Okera fire”, made from the burning of the herb okera. In nature, people should bring the fire to home, and use that fire for cooking, but nowadays, it is prohibited to bring the fire to the public transportations, so only the people living around there can do so.
This is a shrine which enshrines Susanoono-Mikoto, Kushinada Himeno-Mikoto, Yahashirano-Mikogami. The people in Kyoto call it “Yasaka-san”, or “Gion-san”. According to the legend, it dates back to 656 when Susanoono-Mikoto was enshrined around here, and it was long before the transfer of the capital to Kyoto in 794. Susanoo-no-mikoto is a great god in Japanese mythology, known for his defeat of Yamata-no-orochi (a large serpent with eight heads: a symbol of many disasters), redemption of Kushiinadahime-no-mikoto, and produced the ground great-discernment on the earth. Along with the development of the capital, adoration to the shrine spread widely all over Japan. Today, approximately 3,000 satellite shrines exist in various parts of Japan. The name of the shrine was changed to Yasaka-jinja when shrines and Buddhist temples were separated at the time of the Meiji Restoration. The shrine was originally called the "Gion-sha" or "Kansin-in" for a long time.
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When you visit here, I would like to suggest these;
-      To visit there at night to enjoy the beautiful paper lanterns
-      To visit there on the night of 31st of December, and welcome a memorable year.