(Cheating with a picture from last summer. The sky wasn't nearly so pretty this morning!)
I didn't end up going inside though. There was nothing stopping me per se, and one of the attendants offered to take my picture in front of the gate as I was standing there, so I assume it was open... But I felt awkward going in. The priests weren't even there yet. I watched a couple of them go in. Anyway, it just felt intrusive, since it is a place of worship and I was outside normal tourist times.
You will probably never see this space so empty unless you too go at 6AM.
Next stop was Yasaka Shrine, better known to use medievalists as Gion Shrine, home base of the famous Gion Festival. I'll actually be around when it starts this year, and I'm super excited about it. I ran out of time, so I didn't get through the whole complex, but it's a really cool area. It's next to/sort of runs into Maruyama Park, which also kind of melts into Chion'in.
Yasaka Shrine was, not surprisingly, pretty quiet, though much more lively than Heian Jingū. I'm particularly interested in this shrine because of its relationship to the Kamo River. The shrine built several bridges at Shijō (4th Avenue) to transport the Gion Festival floats, like these:
I also noticed some stone inscriptions. One of them relates to my time period, but I'm still not sure what they actually are for. If you're ever curious, the City of Kyoto has a database of all of the inscriptions. No, we're not really surprised by this. Though it is helpful for 1) reading the squiggles and 2) tombstone information.
In case you're like me and couldn't figure out more than three of those, it's 尊勝院庚申堂参道. Go pre-war kanji! The next step is figuring out why whatever is on them is important to merit the stone and ground space... but I'm not there yet. The city database has them searchable by theme, including the Hyakunin isshu, aristocrat houses, and Heian under Emperors Toba and Shirakawa. Not much I would consider worth hunting in those lists, but I plan to poke around some more over the next little while, see if I can find anything from my time period.
Here's today's map:
In other news, the apartment is wonderful. I have my own room, it's only costing me 310,000 yen (roughly $300) for the two weeks I'm here, and while I'm too paranoid of cross-contamination to do much in the kitchen, I can at least cook my own rice and keep stuff in the fridge. Beyond moving in and grocery shopping, I didn't do much else this afternoon. I tried to get up to Kuramadera to see the bamboo cutting ritual, but I missed the bus that would have gotten me there in time to actually see it and my knees were done by then anyway.
I'm definitely paying for the last two days of activity with loads of joint pain, on top of some muscular reminders that I don't walk enough anymore. The rest of the night will be quiet so I can get back out there in the morning.
Fun finds of the day:
This fancy gate from 1621 (Chion'in Sanmon).
Ōkuninushi-no-mikoto playing with a white rabbit
This gorgeous fox shrine to Ukanomitama-no-mikoto
And a very happy Ebisu
Here's an albino pigeon to complete your day.