Bill and Sue-On Hillman: A 50-Year Musical Odyssey  ::


The Heian Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan. The Shrine is ranked as a Beppyo Jinja (the top rank for shrines) by the Association of Shinto Shrines. It is listed as an important cultural property of Japan.

Heian Shrine has a relatively short history, dating back just over a hundred years to 1895. The shrine was built on the occasion of the 1100th anniversary of the capital's foundation in Kyoto and is dedicated to the spirits of the first and last emperors who reigned from the city, Emperor Kammu (737-806) and Emperor Komei (1831-1867). Heian is the former name of Kyoto.

A giant 25-meter-high torii gate dominates the approach to the shrine, around which there are a couple of museums. The actual shrine grounds themselves are very spacious, with a wide open court at the center. The shrine's main buildings are a partial replica of the original Imperial Palace from the Heian Period, built on a somewhat smaller scale than the original.

 Behind the main buildings there is an attractive, paid garden with a variety of plants, ponds and traditional buildings. The garden's most striking feature are its many weeping cherry trees, which bloom a few days later than most other cherry trees, making the garden one of the best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto around the tail end of the season, which is usually around mid April.

Occasionally, the shrine's court is used for special events. For instance, the shrine serves as a site of the Jidai Festival each year on October 22, the anniversary of the foundation of Kyoto. The festival's main event is a parade of people in costumes from different periods of Japanese history that leads from the Kyoto Imperial Palace to Heian Shrine. The Shrine is also used for traditional Japanese weddings as well as concerts. It is rare for a modern concert to be held at a historic site like the shrine, but merging modern and old culture in Kyoto has become a trend.

Adjacent to the Shrine is Okazaki Park, where visitors can learn about culture. The Shrine is surrounded by the Kyoto Public Library, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Kyoto Kaikan, and the Kyoto Zoo.





Bill and Sue-On Hillman