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PLACES

Kyoto’s Famed Yasaka Shrine / 八坂神社(京都)

2013.07.03 [PLACES,WHAT'S NEW]

Yasaka Shrine (Kyoto) / 八坂神社(京都)

The Yasaka Shrine is the most prominent Shinto Shrine in the Gion District of Kyoto, an area known
for spotting maiko and geisha.  Yasaka Shrine was once known as the Gion Shrine because of its
location; it is a large shrine complex composed of many buildings and widespread grounds
leading to the Maruyama Park, which include a famous, old cherry tree of the weeping variety. 
This is one of the oldest shrines found in Kyoto with its construction having begun in 656 AD. Yasaka
Shrine not only came under Imperial patronage during Heian period Japan one thousand years ago,
but for a few decades from around the start of the Meiji period to around the time of the Japanese
surrender at the end of World War II, it was also ranked in the first tier of government supported shrines.

 

 

京都の代表的な歓楽街、祇園。美しく可愛らしい「舞妓」さんの姿を多く見かける場所でもあります。その祇園の
北にある八坂神社は、その昔、祇園社と呼ばれていました。現在では「祇園さん」の愛称で親しまれています。
平安京に都が移され794年より前の656年から、この土地に祀られている八坂神社は、京都の中でも長い歴史を持つ
神社の一つ。境内には、小さな神社がいくつもあり、芸能、縁結び、美を願う人々が多く訪れます。その中には、
舞妓さんたちの姿もチラホラ。これも、祇園ならではの光景です。すぐお隣には、しだれ桜で有名な円山公園もあり、
桜の季節には特に多くの人で賑わいます。

 

 (Maruyama Park / 円山公園のしだれ桜)

 

Kyoto hosts approximately five hundred annual matsuri (festivals), many taking place in the myriad
of shrines and temples found throughout the city.  However, there are three major festivals that are
ranked as the most important every calendar year – Aoi Matsuri in May, Gion Matsuri in July and Jidai
Matsuri on 22 October every year.  Considered the most popular and crowded festival, perhaps in all of
Japan is the Gion Matsuri, which takes place in the middle of July.  Many of these festivals have spiritual
origins in the sense that the initial event had the function of warding off evil or appeasing the kami (gods)
in order to prevent the continuation of famines, epidemics or other disasters.  Many of the larger festivals
in Japan will feature what are described as divine palanquins (omikoshi) as part of the religious ritual. 
In the case of Gion Matsuri, such portable shrines of the Gion Shrine were paraded through the streets of
Kyoto in 869 AD specifically to ward off an epidemic that had plagued the city at that time. The Yasaka
Shrine hosts the Gion Maturi to this day, perhaps the main Japanese festival that is world famous.     

 

 

年間500以上の祭りが開催れている京都ですが、その中でも特に有名なのが、5月に開催される「葵祭」
10月に開催される「時代祭」、そして毎年7月、ここ八坂神社の例祭として行われる「祇園祭」です。
869年、京都をはじめ、日本全国で疫病が流行しました。それを鎮めるために始まったのが、今では
京都の夏の風物詩ともなっている、この祇園祭。7月1日の「吉符入り」からはじまり、華麗な山鉾が
登場する「宵山」「山鉾巡行」、そして最後の「夏越祭」まで、まるまる1ヶ月をかけて行われ、街中に
お囃子の音色が響きます。1000年以上の歴史をもつ、祇園祭は、2009年、ユネスコの無形文化遺産にも
登録され、外国人の間でも有名な日本の祭りの一つとなっています。

 

The Yasaka Shrine area has a good, buzzing energy, especially during the cherry blossom season
where several picnicking locations can be found in and near the adjacent Maruyama Park.  One of the
most popular places to congregate is around the unusual, delicate shape of the giant weeping cherry
tree in the Park.  Cherry trees of this type are referred to as shidarezakura.  Whilst there are many
such trees on the grounds, this particular one is exalted because of its age and the unique, natural
arrangement of its branches giving the tree a rather elegant appeal.  This is especially the case when
the tree is lit up at night and creates a romantically haunting atmosphere.  

 

 

 

The second most popular shrine after the Fushimi Inari Great Shrine for the people of Kyoto to offer
their New Years prayers, over 1,000,000 flock to the Yasaka Shrine every January first. The gates on
all four sides of the sprawling precincts are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are a much
loved face of Kyoto.

 

京都エリアでは、伏見稲荷大社に次ぐ参拝客の多さ(約100万人)を誇る八坂神社。夜間も参拝できるので、
華やかな祇園で遊んだ後、心静かに参拝するのもオススメです。

 

(Japan World Writer / Pauline Chakmakjian, MA )

 

 

 

Information

Address; 京都府京都市東山区祇園町
              Gion Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 

 

 

 


大きな地図で見る

 

 

Web site; http://web.kyoto-inet.or.jp/org/yasaka/(Japanese)

     http://web.kyoto-inet.or.jp/org/yasaka/english/index.html(English)


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