Kyoto is one of my favorite cities to wander and get lost in, it’s flat, relatively compact and packed full of interesting things to see. Heian Shrine is located centrally and easy to incorporate into either a walking tour or access via the public transport system. As an Imperial shrine and the largest Shinto shrine in Kyoto city it’s worth adding a stop to your itinerary if you have the time.
Heian was the historical name for Kyoto City back when it was the Capital of Japan. It was originally built in the late 19th century so is virtually new compared to others you might visit but it’s still historically significant. Anyone with an interest in Japanese gardens will want to allow time to see the stroll gardens which are designed in the style of the Meiji period.
The gardens are located behind the main buildings and when we visited they were heavy in cherry blossom. It’s a well-known location for weeping cherry trees which bloom slightly later than the others, walking under the trees with their heady fragrance is a must-do if you are a fan of the spring bloom.
The history of Heian Shrine
The shrine was originally built in 1895 to commemorate 1,100 years since Emperor Kanmu, the 50th Emperor of Japan, transferred the capital to Heian (Kyoto City). Both Emperor Kanmu (737-806) the first to rule from Kyoto and the 121st Emperor Komei (1831-1866) the last to rule from Kyoto are deities of this Shrine.
The design is a 5/8 scale partial reproduction of the Kyoto Imperial Palace as it was in the 11th and 12th centuries. Most of what you see today is not original, a major fire required significant rebuilding and several additions were made in the national rebuild after WWII.
Located close to the centre of Kyoto City, Heian Shrine is easily accessible. City buses numbers 5 or 100 can be taken from Kyoto Station or the Higashi-yama subway station on the Tozai Line is a 5-10 minute stroll away. Alternatively, the shrine is quite central and can be incorporated into a walking route with many other interesting sites nearby.
Access is from Nishi Ten-o-Cho on the southern side of the shrine, this is the Okazaki park side.
Hours, Facilities and Entry Fees
There is no entry fee to visit the shrine itself but an entry fee of Y600 is charged for the stroll gardens.
There are public toilets, including western style.