Yasaka Shrine: 5 Storied Pagoda, Gion District, Kyoto (HDR Photo)
Gion is (arguably) the most famous area of Kyoto. There is so much to see. Well know for its geisha district, traditional streets and annual festivals, Gion is the type of place you can visit over and over, and discover something new every time. Gion was originally built to accommodate travelers visiting Yasaka Shrine.
The Yasaka Pagoda and Yasaka Shrine are very close to the World Heritage Kiyomizu Temple.
Pagoda near Yasaka ShrineThis pagoda is commonly known as yasaka-no-to 「八坂の塔」 however the pagoda isn’t technically part of the Yasaka Shrine. The pagoda is actually a shrine itself. It’s name is Hokan Temple 「法観寺 Hokan-ji」 and is a short walk away from Yasaka Shrine.
The pagoda has stood since the 1400s. The method of construction and materials used enables this (and just about every other pagoda) to withstand earthquakes (for more detail read Five-story Pagodas: Why Can’t Earthquakes Knock Them Down? from Nipponia). This ancient technology is the same as that used in the pagoda at Daigo-ji, which is Kyoto’s oldest wooden structure.
The pagoda is only a few hundred metres from Kiyomizu-dera, less than 10 minutes walking distance. The pagoda is not far from Yasaka Shrine, so you could easily see the 3 sites in one day.
As the pagoda is 46 metres high, it can be seen from many places in the area. When leaving Kiyomizu-dera and walking down Matsubara-dori (the steep street with traditional shops), look out for the top of the pagoda on your right. It can also be seen from Higashioji-dori (the main road where the city bus stops are located).
In the area there is also a sign posted self-guided walking tour connecting the major sites, along with some interesting large gates and smaller temples.