A Temple Less Crowded yet Equally Divine
Yasui Konpira-gu, Kyoto
Say the word Kyoto and immediately images of temples and shrines and all things traditionally Japanese spring to mind. It's Kyoto's inseparable association with the most beautiful and noble that Japan has to offer that makes it a choice destination for over 50,000,000 tourists that visit "The City of Ten Thousand Shrines" each year - the city that was chosen in 2014 as world's best city by U.S. travel magazine.
But because those numbers of people do pass through to experience Kyoto's awe-inspiring national treasures, visiting a site can often make one feel like a cow caught in a stampede of a dozen other herd of cows.
If you're like me and prefer quiet to crowds, here's an introduction to one of the smaller, lesser known (and less frequented) shrines in Kyoto: Yasui Konpira-gu.
Yasui Konpira-gu is located within earshot of must-see tourist meccas such as Kiyomizu Temple, Yasaka Shrine and Maruyama Park, and has a history that begins during the reign of Emperor Tenchi (668 to 671 C.E.), Japan's 38th emperor.
Only a minute walk from Higashiyama Yasui bus station, it's known as a shrine with powers to end bad relationships and begin good ones, as well as turn undesirable fate around; one whose enshrined god (Omononushi no Kami) is regarded as a god of guidance on the road and sea and travelers in general.
The shrine's most peculiar and remarkable item is its 1.5 meters high by 3 meters wide rock-shaped monolith, complete with a hole in the middle through which bad luck is shed and good luck is gained (see picture above). One only has to write their "katashiro" (good luck prayer) and paste it to the stone - and then ritually enter and exit the hole to have their wish come true.
The shrine is opened to public throughout the day; reception is from 9:00-17.30. If you go early morning you may be lucky enough to enjoy the temple and its grounds all to yourself. Rest assured others will eventually come, but Yasui Konpira-gu is one of the "not quite but practically hidden gems" of the area.
From Kyoto Station (JR and Kintetsu Lines)
Take No. 206 City Bus bound for Kitaoji Bus Terminal.
Get off at “Higashiyama Yasui”, from there just a one minute walk south
Keihan Railways, Hankyu Railways
10-minute walk from “Gion Shijo” Station (Keihan Main Line)
15-minute walk from “Kawaramachi” Station (Hankyu Kyoto Line)