Heian-jingu Shrine (平安神宮)
Heian-jingu Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Sakyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. Shrine was Chokusai-sha (shrine attended by imperial envoy) and ranked as a Kanpei-taisha (large-scale state shrine) under the former system of shrine classifications. It is presently classified as a Beppyo-jinja (special independent shrine) by the Association of Shinto Shrines.
Heian-jingu Shrine was built in 1895 for the 1,100th anniversary of the relocation of the capital city to Heiankyo and enshrines Japan's 50th Emperor Kanmu, the emperor in the period of the capital relocation. In 1940, a commemorative ceremony for the 2,600th year of the founding of Japan, Japan's 121st Emperor Komei, the final Emperor to reside in Heiankyo, were added to the enshrined deities.
Amulets of the four guardian gods which protect Kyoto have been distributed at Heian-jingu Shrine.
On January 6, 1976 a fire broke out in which nine buildings including the main building and inner sanctuary were lost. As a relatively new shrine, it had not been designated a cultural property and was therefore not eligible to receive national subsidies, but was rebuilt three years later thanks to funds donated from all over the country. The fire was confirmed to be have been an act of arson committed by an extremist group and the suspects were placed under arrest.
The large vermillion front gate, based on the Heian period Oten-mon Gate, is a well-known feature of Heian-jingu Shrine. The torii (Shinto shrine archway) at the approach leading to the shrine stands at 24.2 meters tall. The main building was designed to imitate Chodo-in (Court of Government) buildings, as the main office of Daidairi (place of the Imperial Palace and government offices) of Heiankyo.
The shrine precinct covers an area of approximately 66,200 square meters, including the traditional Japanese garden known as 'Heian-jingu Shinen,' the approximately 33,100 square meters. Shinen has been nationally designated a place of scenic beauty and was created over a period of more than 20 years by seventh-generation master gardener Jihei OGAWA (Ueji), who lived during the Meiji period into the Showa period.
Shinen is home to numerous creatures including birds rarely found in areas inhabited by humans such as the common kingfisher and northern goshawk, the Japanese Pond Turtle which has waterweed growing on its shell, and the Asian Yellow Pond Turtle which is extremely rare in Japan.
In commemoration of the shrine's founding, the Jidai-Matsuri (Festival of Ages) is held on October 22, the date that the decision was made to relocate the capital city to Heiankyo.
Since autumn of 2003, the Kyoto Intercollegiate Festa has been held by the volunteer students in Kansai in Heian-jingu Shrine and the Okazaki area. Every year, the Kyoto Intercollegiate Festa records the spectator numbers in excess of 100,000 and is one of the most representative big festivals of Kyoto.
Mai KURAKI performed live in the precinct of Heian-jingu Shrine during the first Kyoto Intercollegiate Festa in October 2003. During her performance, Mai, who was a student of a university in Kyoto at that time, talked enthusiastically rapped about the beauty of Kyoto, especially the changing of the four seasons, and the crowd were fascinated by her and her passion.
The Heian-jingu Shrine area is maintained as the Okazaki Park (Kyoto City) to be a cultural zone. Through Otori (the giant torii) to the west is the Kyoto Prefectural Library; The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; and Kyoto Kaikan Hall, and to the east is the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art and the Kyoto City Zoo.