Kyoto is a magnificent place to explore Buddhism and Shinto because there are so many temples and shrines located close together. While I was in Kyoto, I explored several religious areas, including Yasaka Jinja in the Gion District.
Yasaka Jinja started life as Gion Jinja around 650s and has remained a popular site for locals due to its close vicinity to highly populated shopping areas. It also plays a prominent role during the Gion Matsuri, an annual festival in July that began as a plea to the gods to ward off pestilence and plague in the late 800s. The practice has continued throughout the years and has expanded into a celebration and parade through the streets.
Within Yasaka Jinja, many people visit the main hall to conduct prayers. Offering are made and patrons shake a thick rope attached to a large bell. The bell summons the gods to listen to their prayers for good health and happiness.
Just outside the shrine you’ll find Maruyama Park, which is one of the most popular sites for cherry blossom viewing. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there during the season so no blooms were visible. Still, the park offered a nice retreat from the bustling city and was a great place to relax and catch my breath.