Famous for the 300 cherry blossom trees that cloak the shrine with their flowers in spring
Coated by luscious red lacquer, Heian Shrine was built in 1895 in commemoration of the 1,100th anniversary of the establishment of the ancient capital Heiankyo. The shrine is a 5/8 size reproduction of Heiankyo’s central government building Chodoin in the state it was at the time of its opening by Emperor Kanmu. The shrine’s approx. 30,000 square meter garden is an “excursion type” garden that is divided into four gardens–the East Garden, the Central Garden, the West Garden and the South Garden–where you can enjoy flowers of the four seasons. The garden is designated as a Place of Scenic Beauty by the national government. It is particularly known for its cherry blossoms; nearly 300 cherry blossom trees of various kinds including 150 weeping cherry trees are covered with pink or white flowers around early April to mid-April. Especially, featuring a pond reflecting the guest house (Shobikan) with the traditional hiwadabuki thatched roof and the surroundings, the view at the East Garden is absolutely breathtaking. The “Crimson Weeping Cherry Concert” is held for a limited period of four days while the flowers are in full bloom; visitors are treated to performances of traditional Japanese music and the view of cherry blossoms lit up at night.
The final destination of the Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages)
Widely known as one of the three grand festivals of Kyoto, the Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages) is held annually on October 22. This spectacular festival features a parade that gives one an impression that you are watching a moving ancient picture scroll that depicts the history of Kyoto. The parade starts out at the Kyoto Imperial Palace and ends at Heian Shrine. The parade covers eight ages from the Enryaku period (782 – 806) up to the Meiji Restoration of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Lasting for about 3 hours, nearly 2,000 people and animals, such as cows and horses, parade a distance of approximately 2km. The best highlight of the parade is the costumes that are reproduced faithfully. From the footwear, hats, accessories, flags, to hairstyles, everything is reproduced based on historical research conducted by professionals of various fields. Check official websites for the dates of the Crimson Weeping Cherry Concert and the Festival of the Ages.