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Yasaka Shrine

Listed under Temples in Kyoto, Japan.

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If you go to Kyoto you're potentially looking for traditional Japan. Geisha spotting, and invitation to a tea ceremony, admiring carefully-altered-to-perfection gardens, visiting the shrines and tasting all the detailed nuanced flavour of this ancient culture are the activities on the travellers agenda in Kyoto. Some of these things you can arrange but some are pot luck and sometimes you need the gods to smile on you...

Which is what happened to me at the Yasaka Shrine. At the top of the main traffic street in Gion, Shijo dori, most tourists will be tempted by the bright red gate of this shrine by default because it's right there and enter to find a shrine kept carefully lovely – it's role in the important Gion Matsuri festival gurantees it's gorgeous up keep. It's main focus as a shrine is keeping people safe from illness, but it has other practical uses – namely as a wedding venue. And I was lucky enough to see two beautiful, traditional Shinto brides on their big day. In her heavy, heavily embroidered white kimono, with its long train, fan and head gear one bride was pleasant temperedly having her photo taken with her new husband, also dressed beautifully, and I was totally taken in an stared at here like she was some kind of exquisite artefact – which in a way she was. A thing of great beauty which totally distracted me from admiring the temple... But I'm sure it was lovely if this wonderful creature would choose it for her nuptials. May the Shinto spirits smile on her as they smiled on me when arranging that I come out the nearby Maruyama Park at just the right moment in the gentle Autumn rain.

Written by  Kat Mackintosh.

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