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IMAGE: Yasaka-jinja (drawing by Kawase Hasui, 1883-1957)
Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社 Yasaka-jinja), once called Gion Shrine, is a Shinto shrine in the Gion District of Kyoto. Situated at the east end of Shijō-dōri (Fourth Avenue), the shrine includes several buildings, including gates, a main hall and a stage.
Initial construction on the Shrine began in 656. The Shrine became the object of Imperial patronage during the early Heian period. In 965, Emperor Murakami ordered that Imperial messengers be sent to report important events to the guardian kami of Japan. These heihaku were initially presented to 16 shrines; and in 991, Emperor Ichijō added three more shrines to Murakami's list. Three years later in 994, Ichijō refined the scope of that composite list by adding Umenomiya Shrine and Gion Shrine.
From 1871 through 1946, Yasaka Shrine was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha, meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines.