One of Kyoto’s more popular sights, this shrine was built in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the founding of the city. The shrine buildings are colourful replicas, reduced to a two-thirds scale, of the Imperial Court Palace of the Heian period (794–1185). About 500m in front of the shrine is a massive steel torii (shrine gate). Although it appears to be entirely separate, this is actually considered the main entrance to the shrine itself.
The vast garden here, behind the shrine, is a fine place for a wander and particularly lovely during the cherry-blossom season. With its large pond, water lilies and Chinese-inspired bridge, the garden is a tribute to the style that was popular in the Heian period. It is well known for its wisteria, irises and beni-shidare-zakura (red weeping cherry blossoms).
One of Kyoto’s biggest festivals, the Jidai Matsuri, is held here on 22 October. On 2 and 3 June, Takigi nō is also held here. Takigi nō is a picturesque form of nō (stylised dance-drama performed on a bare stage) staged in the light of blazing fires. Tickets cost ¥3000 if you pay in advance (ask at the Kyoto Tourist Information Center for the location of ticket agencies) or you can pay ¥4000 at the entrance gate.