It is as if you stepped into Monet painting, still wet from the paintbrush, with droplets of dew from the morning chill, rays of sunshine peeking through the cracks in the trees, and the fish lapping at the surface of the water upon your arrival. This is the Heian Shrine. A Shinto Shrine built in 1895 for the city of Kyoto’s 1100 anniversary.
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Okazaki Nishitennocho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8341, Japan
Hours: 6am – 5pm
Entrance Fee for the Garden only: ¥600 Adults/300 Children
The genuine beauty of the Heian Shrine is not immediately apparent. The torii gate for this shrine is well outside the main entrance along the main city street and towers at 85 feet tall. The plaza is covered in tiny pebbles, and grand in size and appearance. Further in lies the garden, for which a small entrance fee is charged.
It is a palatial garden. The trees are large and full. They hover over the pathways, and reach towards the sky in every single direction. Walking paths are lined with blooming flowers, and all variety of plant and insect life.
The pond in the center of the garden (seiho-ike) is covered with wetland tall grasses, lilly pads, and dragon stepping stones for connecting the larger and smaller ponds together. There is no limit to the grace that can be found in this magnificent garden and shrine betwixt the cherry, plum, iris, and azalea flowers.
There is even a beautiful bridge crossing a broad lake, intended for admiring and gazing across the water. There are benches, along with food you can feed to the fishes, turtles and ducks. We stopped for a moment and paid the few coins to purchase the fish food. We loved watching all of the animals clamor for their piece of the pie.
The Heian Shrine is a smaller replica of the original Kyoto Imperial Palace. During the Shinto Shichi-Go-San festivities this shrine is the starting place for the Jidai Matsuri festival which takes place in October.
► For Kids: They will love walking through the garden and pointing out the bugs, plants and aquatic life and crossing the pond on the dragon stones.
The Heian Shrine is located in close proximity to the Ryozen Gokoku Shrine. Check out our full review, and then head over to read our full list of adventures in Japan, including our first ever Diapers On A Plane Japan Vlog, Hiroshima, Kyoto and Tokyo.
► Nap-Time Version: This is a beautiful shrine, with gorgeous gardens. It’s easy to get to, and is a landmark in the city of Kyoto.