Heian Jingu (Shrine)

Ranked one of the top Shinto shrines in Japan, the Heian Shrine is a comparatively “new” shrine. It was build in the late 19th century and is modeled as a partial replica of the imperial palace in Kyoto. One unique thing that this shrine has is a large square/courtyard in the center. This space is used for various festivals (including the all important Jidai Matsuri) and parades that take place throughout the calendar year. More lately, even events like concerts are held at the shrine square.

One of the most famous attractions of this temple is a garden, highly rated for viewing cherry blossoms. While there will is a blog post dedicated just to the garden here, the pictures below were taken during a visit to Heian Shrine on New Year’s Day (1st Jan). It is customary in Japan to visit a shrine on 1st of January, and seek the blessings of the Shinto god for a prosperous and successful year ahead. The atmosphere at the shrine was carnival-like, with food stalls and shops lined up along the streets leading to the entrance gate. Standing next to Japanese people and offering prayers is a great way to immerse yourself in the Japanese way of life.

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  (new year’s crowd with food stalls on both sides of the entrance walkway)

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       (the main gate or Oten-mon gate, which leads to a central square)

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     (sake offerings to the god, kept at the entrance)

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                            (Oten-mon entrance gate – 19.3 meters high)

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          (the central square, with the main hall or Daigoku-den, up front)

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      (The white tiger tower or Byakko-ro, to the left of the main hall)

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       (Blue dragon tower or Soryu-ro to the right of the main hall)

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(Gaku-den, a hall smaller than the main hall, had religious ceremonies/short plays taking place)

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                    (Soryu-ro or the blue dragon tower)

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                  (Beautiful artwork on one of the halls)

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               (New Years day meant heavy crowds in every hall)

Inside the Soryu-Ro hall, there are various ceremonies which take place on new year’s day. There ceremonies are like short 20 minute skits (plays) with monks playing drums and other instruments, and chanting religious verses from Shinto religion.

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    (A New Years special religious ceremony taking place in Soryu-Ro)

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(Amazake – a non alcoholic drink made of fermented rice, served during New Year’s day)

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(Japanese noodles from one of the street side stalls, garnished with orange marinated radish and mayonnaise)

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Items: Heian Shrine (official website)

Price: Free to visit the shrine. Price to visit the garden is 600 yen or ₹ 353.

Location: 97, Okazaki Nishitennocho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8341, Japan

Timings: Open everyday, 6 am to 5 pm

Telephone: +81 75-761-0221

Type: Religious/Tourist

How to get there: Take bus numbers 203, 204, 100, 5, 32, 93 OR take subway to Higashiyama station and walk 10 mins north. For bus map, go here and scroll all the way to the bottom to Other Information where it says: Route Map – City Bus Sightseeing Map “Busnavi”. Download the second option ‘download 2′.

Language: Mainly Japanese.

Also visit: The famous garden inside the Heian Shrine complex.

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