A palace-like tribute to the Kyoto emperors, complete with a beautiful Japanese garden
Heian Shrine is a colorful, spacious complex that instills awe in the average traveler. It worships Kyoto’s first and last emperors.
When the capital of Japan moved from Kyoto to Tokyo, the city saw an overall decline. The Meiji Emperor ordered some renovations in Kyoto so that it could be restored. Heian Shrine is one of many of these restorative efforts. It’s relatively new, constructed in the Meiji era. Apparently, it includes a replica of the emperor’s residence that got burnt down, from the original Kyoto Imperial Palace at Ichijo.
Heian Shrine Garden
Heian Shrine is surrounded by a massive garden, carved into four sections. It has won national distinction, and certainly is worth it to explore.
In the first area, you’ll find flowers and plants from various Japanese literary works, such as the Tale of Genji. There’s also a mini train exhibit, since Kyoto was the first place in Japan to have electric trains. Kind of cool to step back into time.
Continue walking down the path, and you’ll be able to enjoy more of the garden. I went sometime between summer and fall, so I didn’t get to see too many flowers. That said, if you go around springtime, you might be able to catch the pink cherry trees in full bloom.
Apparently, you can also have your wedding here! We saw an engagement photoshoot happen on this bridge, which they say was brought over from the Kyoto Imperial Palace.
At the end of your garden tour, you’ll cross this beautiful bridge and snap some nice photos before you head out back into reality. Truly a peaceful garden!