English address: 97 Nishitenno-cho, Okazaki, Sakyo-ku; Kyoto, Japan
Japanese Address: 左京区岡崎西天王町97Getting there
31min walk from Kyoto Kaikan Bijutsukan-mae Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 5 from Kyoto Station
10min walk from Higashiyama Station, Tozai subway lineTelephone
+81 75-761-0221More information Prices
Admission to shrine precincts: Free
Garden: Adults: 600 yen & Chidlren: 300 yenOpening hours
6am-5:30pm February 15-March 14 & October
6am-6pm March 15 – September 30
6am-5pm November 1 – February 14
Heian-jungu Shrine is one of the most important and visually impressive Shinto shrines in Kyoto. It’s worth a visit, particularly on Shinto festival days.
Despite the impressive scale of its sacred ground – not to mention its massive torii gate – Heian-jingu’s history is comparably shorter than its ancient capital counterparts. Built in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of ‘Heian-kyo’ (the former name of the country’s cultural capital, Kyoto), this monumental shrine takes its design cred straight from the Imperial Palace of the Heian Period.
While no original buildings remain, the present shrine offers a small-scale idea of the impressive structures of this aristocratic era. Basically it’s the Japanese equivalent of the Palace of Versailles.
Cross the graveled courtyard to the Daigokuden – noted as the shrine’s spiritual hotspot – where visitors can pay their respects and place their hands in prayer to silently make a wish. If you need a bit of luck, stalls around the grounds sell different amulets, or you can try measuring your fate by drawing a paper fortune known as omikuji.
The shrine also houses an attractive Japanese garden featuring plants that appear in the pages of Heian Period classics, such as the weeping cherry tree from The Tale of Genji.
Famous for its trail of 300 cherry trees, spring sees the temple courtyard and garden blossom with crowds come to celebrate hanami (cherry blossom viewing) – another tradition dating back to the Heian Era.
For an aesthetic overload, you can combine a trip to the Heian-jingu with a visit to an art gallery. The Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art and the National Museum of Modern Art are both nearby.
Like most Shinto shrines, Heian-jingu Shrine is marked by a vermillion torii (shrine gate) out front. But the torii at Heigan-jingu is anything but ordinary: It’s vast. Standing almost 25 meters high, it dominates the entire Okazaki-koen Park area.
Interestingly, it’s set so far away from the main compound of the shrine that many people assume it’s completely unrelated to the shrine. Heian-jingu Shrine was built in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto as capital of the country and to coincide with an industrial exposition held that year. It’s a 5/8 scale reproduction of the original Hiean Palace (the palace of the early emperors of Kyoto).
You can explore the vast gravel strewn open area in front of the main shrine, make wishes at the shrine, buy amulets and fortunes and observe the Japanese as they go through their various religious rituals. There’s a decent garden that you must pay to enter behind the main hall. It’s famous for its cherry blossoms and this is the only time that we really recommend paying to enter the garden.
History of Heian Shrine
Heian Shrine is a scaled-down reproduction of the original Imperial Palace (Daigoku-den) first constructed in 794. Heian Shrine was first built in the late nineteenth century and the present wooden structure dates from 1979 after a fire in 1976 destroyed the original.
Heian Shrine was built in 1895, which was the 1,100th anniversary of the founding of Heian-kyo (Kyoto). To mark this event, a shrine deifying the Emperor Kammu was constructed. In 1940 at the height of wartime nationalism, the Emperor Komei, the father of Emperor Meiji and the last emperor to permanently reside in Kyoto was also enshrined. Heian Shrine was built in the style of Chodo-in, which was the main edifice of the Heian Capital.
Visitors enter the main shrine area through Ote-mon, a twin level gate constructed as a replica of the original entrance gate of the palace. The floor area here is covered with white sand.
Two Chinese-style towers stand at the end of north-south running buildings beyond the Ote-mon: they are Soryu-ro and Byakko-ro, Blue Dragon and White Tiger tower respectively.
The Daigoku-den is a scaled down version of the original, which was destroyed by fire in 1177 and never replaced. The Daigoku-den is vermillion with blue roof tiles and similar in style to the Ote-mon. The Honden is behind the Daigoku-den and houses the spirits of the two emperors: Kammu and Komei. The interior is unpainted cypress wood (hinoki).
The lovely Chinese-style garden behind the main shrine buildings to the left as you enter has a pond and covered wooden bridge and is meant to represent the kind of garden design that was popular in the Heian Period of Japanese history. The garden is divided in four sections: north, south, east and west and contains plum, cherry, iris, azalea, and lilies.
The Heian Jingu garden was designed by Ogawa Jihei (1860-1933) and is most popular in spring when its many cherry trees are in full bloom. The central pond (seiho-ike) is the main feature of this delightful, strolling garden. The so-called "Dragon Stepping Stones" or garyu-kyo connect the path from Seiho Pond to the smaller soryu-ike (Green Dragon Pond). The stones are actually from the old Sanjo Bridge, which was redeveloped at the end of the 19th century. The covered, wooden bridge known as the Bridge of Peace (taihei-kaku) is topped with a phoenix and leads the visitor out of the garden.
Heian Shrine is a popular place for Shichi-Go-San festivities and is the starting place for the important Kyoto festival, Jidai Matsuri which takes place annually on October 22.
The colorful Takigi No performances take place on June 1-2 and feature blazing fires. A setsubun festival involving geisha also takes place at Heian Shrine in early February.
The Heian Shrine torii is one of the largest and tallest gates in Japan. The torii is 24.2 meters tall, and the massive supporting beams are 3.63 meters in diameter.
For many visitors, a typical visit to Kyoto involves a good deal of shrine hopping. Plan your destinations wisely: the city is quite a bit bigger than it appears to be on your bus route map and is best conquered by grouping sites geographically. In terms of other famous sites, the Heian Shrine is north of Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Gion, east of the Sento Imperial Palace, and along the way to the Philosopher's Path and Ginkaku-ji.
What to See at Heian Jingu
Outside the shrine and arching over a busy road is the torii (shrine gate) of Heian Jingu, the largest in Japan. Built in 1929, it is 24.2 meters high; the top rail is 33.9 meters long.
The orange, green, and white buildings of Heian Jingu are intended to be replicas of the old Kyoto Imperial Palace (destroyed in 1227), at two-thirds the original size. The main buildings are the dignified East Hon-den and West Hon-den (the Main Halls), and the Daigoku-den (Great Hall of State), in which the Heian emperor would issue decrees.
There are three stroll gardens at Heian Jingu, positioned east, west, and north of the shrine itself. They follow the Heian aesthetic of focusing on a large pond, which is a rare feature at a Shinto shrine. The stepping-stone path that crosses the water is made from the pillars of a 16th-century bridge that spanned the Kamo-gawa before an earthquake destroyed it.
Shinen Garden, which is entered on the left as you face the main hall, should especially not be missed. Typical of gardens constructed during the Meiji Era, it's famous for its weeping cherry trees in spring, its irises and water lilies in summer, and its changing maple leaves in the fall.
Festivals and Events
Heian Jingu is the destination of the Jidai Matsuri, one of the three most important festivals of Kyoto. Held on October 22, it celebrates the founding of Kyoto and includes a huge, colorful procession. A parade of 2,000 people attired in costumes from every period of Kyoto history winds its way from the original site of the Imperial Palace to the Heian Jingu, carrying the mikoshi (portable shrines) of Emperors Kammu and Komei.
During New Year's, kimono-clad and gray-suited Japanese come to pay homage to the kami of the emperors, trampling over the imposing gravel forecourt leading to Daigoku-den.
June 1-2 of each year sees the Takigi No performances, so named because they're held outside at night, lighted by takigi (burning firewood). Performances take place on a stage built in front of the the Daigoku-den building.
Heian Shrine Access
Heian Shrine is on Jingu michi a short walk from Higashiyama Station on the Tozai subway line. A 15-minute walk from the Sanjo Station on the Keihan Line. Bus #5 to Kyoto Kaikan Bijutsu-mae stop or take the Raku Bus #100 also from Kyoto Station.
Riding by bicycle around the shrines and museums of Okazaki is a cheap and healthy option.
Heian Jingu is near the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, the Hosomi Museum, the Kampo Museum, the Kanze Kaikan Noh Theater, the Namikawa Cloisonne Museum of Kyoto, Kyoto Zoo and the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts. The Kyoto Handicraft Center is north across Marutamachi with Kumano Shrine to the west across Higashioji. Shogo-in Temple is north again of Kyoto Handicraft Center. East along Marutamachi is Okazaki Jinja and the entrance to Kurodani Temple. Just beyond the junction of Marutamachi (east-west) and Shirakawa (north-south) is the Philosopher's Walk.
Reviews by visitors
A rather grand shrine built to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the capitals foundations in Kyoto. There was a lovely wide courtyard in the centre of the shrine and behind the main building a really large garden to stroll around full of beautiful trees, large ponds and cute little buildings.
After the misfortune of finding the unexpected closure of the Kyoto Museum of Modern Art for works (so we’ll need to revisit another day), we needed a quick change of plans. The Heian Shrine (平安神宮) was literally just up the road and so we decided after a quick Googling that this would be a good thing to do. It wasn’t difficult to find as we were virtually standing in the shadow of the shrine’s enormous red torii gate.
The Heian Shrine is a Shinto shrine and while we were able to explore most of it there was a lot of work in progress that looked like an event being set up – chairs, stage, lights, etc. – so some of the shrine wasn’t really accessible to visitors.
However, the Heian Shrine also has an extensive garden around and behind it and so, not ones to turn our noses up at a nice peaceful garden, we stumped up our entry fee and headed in. The gardens are organised so that visitors essentially follow one trail; there are numerous side branches but these rejoin the main trail, and so it didn’t feel like we were being continually herded in one direction.
The highlight of the Heian Shrine garden for us was the beautiful lake and bridge that we discovered towards the end of the walk through the garden. The bridge had long benches running along each side of the span and there were lots of Japanese ladies-who-lunch sat around chatting in the shade on this lovely sunny day.
We sat on the bridge for a little rest and spotted a heron stood on a rock patiently watching the water. And just a few minutes later it flew forward and dived into the water and came up with a fish – one gulp and he was gone. So as the heron had had his lunch we thought the fish, terrapins and ducks that milled hopefully beneath the bridge deserved theirs. There was a public food store for the wildlife on the bridge, so we put the suggested ¥100 into the honesty box and had a great time causing a feeding frenzy as carp, terrapins, and ducks all sought to get a snack.
Sometimes misfortune can be a good thing as we ended up seeing a shrine that was not that high on our list; or more specifically seeing its garden that we didn’t know about. It turned out to be one of the most beautiful green spaces we’ve seen so far in Japan.
We ended our trip with this temple and it was the most memorable. It was one of the few temples that was not on "the tour bus" route, which I was very thankful. The gardens are beautiful, complete with ponds and stepping stones. We were also greeted by some 5th grade students that wanted to practice their English. They gave us a stack of notes welcoming us to Japan and were really exited about meeting westerners. The entire experience was magnificent.
The huge Tori Gate makes a great entrance to the grounds of the shrine. All of the buildings are done in that vermillion colour that stands out amongst the greenery in photographs. The shine itself is very good but the gardens are magnificent. Not many tourists on the day we visited, but many local families. The gardens are huge and it is easy to lose time wandering about - stopping to feed the fish under the bridge over the lake, etc. The stepping stones across the shallow part of the lake made for some great photo opportunities.
Although we missed cherry blossom time, we did enjoy the gardens anyway. Put it on your list to visit when in Kyoto. Across the street is an office building with some marvellous arts and crafts for sale in the basement. (It also has some very clean rest rooms).
We love nice architectural build and this temple offer not just the nice building and also a very spaces and beautiful park in within. Enjoy the peace and scenery. This place also particularly beautiful when in cherry blossom time.
The grounds for Heian are massive. The main gate and castle are visually stunning when you first arrive. Not to mention the massive Tori Gate that straddles the street.
The inner gardens are not to be missed. This is something you want to take your time doing. The walk around the small lake/pond has numerous stunning photo opps. Our trip was in April and we were fortunate enough to be there during the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms). There is no amount of words that can describe how pretty the gardens are during this period. We have been to Heian in other times of the year (Sept/Oct) and although very pretty. Nothing compares to when the Cherry trees are blooming.
The walk around the lake area is very calming and everything is beautifully taken care of. As others indicate the temple is almost like any other temple, but the gardens are not to be missed. Don't get me wrong the temple is beautiful but the gardens are the understated winner.
In our latest visit there, the only disappointment was that the stepping stones across the pond are no longer open. The stones are still in the water, but obviously people must have fallen in and so they are now blocked from access. Which is really sad as walking across the stones makes for fantastic photos.
There is a small tea house setup around the pond, and it was wonderful to sit and look at the beauty while enjoying some tea. We were even fortunate enough to be able to take some photos with a family that was all dressed up in Kimono.
Overall, I understand that there a number of different and amazing temples in Kyoto. If you come to Heian, (which I think you should), take time out to walk through the gardens. You will not be disappointed with this gem.
We visited during golden week - there was an awesome local festival on out the front of the temple with food, music, stalls and coffee - loved it. The temple was just a temple, but the gardens are some of the best I've visited in Japan. If you're into lost in translation - you can skip across the pond just like Scarlett Johanssen did in the movie.
Take time out to sample some green tea just next to the big pond with the lovely lady volunteers. A couple speak English and love a good chat. Such beautiful people! Make sure your camera batteries are fully charged and memory card ready, you'll need it!
The shrine is very impressive with the huge red torii at the entrance and the relatively new buildings on a grand scale. But the highlight of the shrine is the extensive garden. From the entry the gardens got progressively more beautiful as we wandered through. The cherry trees were in full bloom in early April and pink rain was falling as the petals fell. A young girl was trying to catch one and I tried too - not as easy as you think with a little breeze blowing. The lake formed a beautiful backdrop but the prize exhibit was a covered bridge and viewing platform built over the lake. If you go to the shrine don't miss the gardens, even if it is not at cherry blossom time!
The entrance to the garden is on the left side. In the spring time, you will be able to enjoy Sakura trees, at this moment in May, Iris is in season, Ao Momiji during summer and Red Momiji during the autumn season. You can enjoy this tranquil set of garden here.
The Heian Shrine itself, it is always nice to visit all year along.
After the Emperor moved to Tokyo when that city took over from Kyoto as the capital city this shine set in a vast forecourt was constructed. There are pleasant gardens and the highlights are the Golden Pavilion and the Torii which is the Japanese gate often found at the entrance to a Shinto shrine. It represents going from a secular precinct into the sacred area .
Nice shrine. It was pouring when we went so we may not have seen it all, but there was a beautiful wedding when we were there. The gate is massive--very impressive. Near Okizaki Canal/Keage Incline and other attractions.
Heian (Peace, also the former name of Kyoto) Shrine is a relatively 'new' shrine, dating back to only the late 19th century. The shrine was built as a symbol of revival of Kyoto after the capital moved to Tokyo. The shrine grounds is extensive, with a wide open court. The giant torii cannot be missed. There are gardens in the shrine as well; entrance fee is required.
We visited this shrine on our afternoon tour and enjoyed it very much. It was good to see it with a guide so you can understand the symbols and meanings of the shrine and artefacts here.you also get the history of the shrine and much more information than just from the info boards. Another tourist Mecca but worth the visit.
This is a pairing of Chinese and Japanese architectural styles. The walk takes us around the lovely lake with over 300 weeping cherries which when we were there were in full flower making lovely scenes for photographing.
We visited this shrine as part of a six hour tour. It was an interesting stop but not a must see. The thing to do is to pay for a good wish. If that good wish is not to your liking you can attach the rejected paper wish to a tree. The paper branches looked like cherry blossoms from a distance and people were taking photos of them.
We did eventually find our way on foot to the Heian Shrine in part by following the large orange gate. The in-laws chose to detour into the art museum to beat the heat. Approaching the shrine, there was a market going on with some music/ vendor selling crafts and food. It’s also right next to a little league baseball field where a game was going on. So we actually took some extra time here poking around and taking in the atmosphere. The shrine itself is expansive. We saw a wedding going on and enjoyed the architecture. The shrine is free, but the garden is a fee. I was very impressed with the garden and how extensive it is. The magic was just how hidden this area is behind the shrine. There are many places to sit and relax near the water, but we had to meet the rest of the group.
The shrine is a nice place near Okazaki park with a big open court and classic architecture. However the Garden is a must see, especially if Cherry Blossoms are blooming (and I suspect its beautiful with serene views any time of year). The path through the garden is winding with many beautiful trees and blooming plants for different times of the year. There are many views across water to well landscaped areas, it is really wonderful. This is certainly worth the entry fee.
This is relatively new Shrine in Kyoto with less historic importance, but its buildings are beautiful ad nice. In addition, its garden in the back is wonderful throughout the year. Especially, in the Cherry Blossom season on early to mid April, it's one of the best places to visit in Kyoto!! On the 2nd week of April, they have concerts in the garden with illumination for Sakura at night, which is very wonderful!!
Visited the shrine during first week of April. There was some sort of a festival going on at the shrine, which is kind of interesting. The shrine itself is a beautiful complex with a really large torii (red gate) at the entrance. For me, the garden (600yen) is just so-so, not a must see. There are many more attractive places to see sakura which is free, like Maruyama Park, the Philosopher's Path and Shirakawa River.
Traveled here during the day and walked around the main area (which is very small). A trip here only takes about 30 minutes but there are several things to see and enjoy. The shrine itself looks similar to the other major shrines in Kyoto so I wouldn't particularly seek this one out if it is not along your path for the day. But overall it's a nice peaceful place to walk around and visit. There is a gift store with a few nice local souvenirs as well.
Not to miss, especially in Sakura season. This is a large, very well maintained garden, open for tous during the day, and then used for special events in good weather in the evening (ie music festivals).
It's only 400 Yen to tour the gardens, so it's well worth the cost.
If you're planning a garden at your house, you'll leave with far too many ideas!
One of the best sakura spots in Kyoto. Next to Okazaki canal, really wonderful to stroll through more so during sakura time.
Nice shrine in normal times but really sakura makes it almost too wonderful.
Like all shrines in Japan, clean, quiet, and serene that makes you forget about work and transport yourself into your inner peace!
This shrine is nice (although fairly new by Kyoto standards), but it is the lovely gardens that really makes it worth visiting - spectacular during sakura (cherry blossom) season, but pretty any time of the year.
You can see more Kyoto travel guide at here.