Oh, oh, Yasaka Shrine is lively today as well. Such a large number of people have come to pray.

Yasaka Shrine crowded with people

Today, despite of the heat, I went to Yasaka Shrine, prepared to suffer from heat stroke (no, I didn’t need that kind of preparation). Then, I found the area around the shrine and its precincts were filled with people, people, people. How lively. After all, this area must be bustling with activity.

The main shrine of Yasaka Shrine

The main shrine of Yasaka Shrine

I was feeling much better, but then…! I recalled a slightly scary story about Yasaka Shrine. I was remembering it as if I were muttering to myself in my brain.

Gion Festival, the festival that represents Kyoto. This festival, which has a history of more than 1,000 years, was originally held to appease Susanoo (Ushitotenno), the dreaded god of pestilence.

The origin of Gion Festival dates back to 869 (Jogan 11).

In that year, a plague epidemic broke out, and people rumored that it was the curse of Susanoo, the god of Yasaka Shrine. So, the emperor ordered 66 spearheads, each about 2 take (6 meters) long, to be erected to commemorate the 66 countries of Japan, and boys from all over Rakucho gathered in Shinsen-en Garden to worship the portable shrine. Goryo-e was held to pray for the removal of the plague.

Shinsen-en 8


Relationship between the mikoshi and the yamahoko. There are two interpretations for this. The first is to purify the path for the gods to pass through by means of Yamahoko. The second is that the procession of the Yamahoko floats gathers the bad gods, and the gods on the portable shrines come to them to appease the evil spirits and send them out of the town.

This event to ward off the plague has been passed down to the present day.

Susanoo is famous as a fierce god of ancient mythology, but the Susanoo enshrined in the Gion faith, which has Yasaka Shrine as its head shrine, was combined with Ushitenno, who was considered the guardian deity of the Gion shrine where Buddha preached in Buddhism. It is said that the origin of Ushitenno is an incarnation of an Indian deity and it later became the guardian deity of Gion Shrine, where the Buddha preached in Buddhism.

Ushitenno, a god of pestilence with horns on the face of an ox, was also feared and believed to be an object of worship to quell its curse.


Incidentally, the tale of Sominshorai in “Bingo Province Fudoki” written in the early Nara period (710-794) tells the horror of this Susanoo (=Ushitenno).

While traveling in the human world, Susanoo begged a wealthy man named Kotan Shorai for lodging for the night, but was refused. Meanwhile, a poor man named Sominshorai invited and entertained Susanoo. As a thank-you, Susanoo told him that a ring of thatch be attached around the waist of the daughter of Sominshorai. And that night, using the thatch-ring as a landmark, he destroyed all but the daughter of Sominshorai.

According to a legend, Susanoo was not affected by the prayers of 1,000 priests for the future destruction of Kotan. Since then, it has been said that the descendants of Sominshorai who wear thatch rings will be able to escape from the plague.

The thatch rings

The thatch rings

To escape from such calamities, people made “Sominshorai’s descendants” talismans or thatched rings with straw and thatch to ward off plague and disease.

Fuu, I’ve been mumbling to myself inside my brain, and I’m getting thirsty. Let’s have a cold juice, somewhere around here.

Well, everyone, so please take care of yourselves.
Good bye, good bye, good bye.

Yasaka Shrine

  • Kyoto Prefecture Kyoto City Higashiyama Ward Gion town North side
  • Tel: 075-561-6155
  • Worship hours:
    9:00-17:00 (shrine office)
    You can make worship 24 hours a day.
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  • About public transportation
    For train users:
    About 5-minute-walk from Keihan “Gion Shijo Station”
    About 8-minute-walk from Hankyu “Kyoto Kawaramachi Station”

    For bus users:
    Near “Gion” bus stop riding Kyoto city bus 100 or 206 system from JR Kyoto Station

    For car users:
    ※There are no parking in the precincts. Please utilize the parking lots nearby.

  • Origin: it was built to worship Ushitenno as Goryo
    The benefits: Warding off, Marriage
    The deity: Suanoo no Mikoto





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