Heian Jingu is the largest shrine in Kyoto, but not exactly the oldest: it was built in 1893 to commemorate two emperors: Kanmu, who moved the capital to Kyoto, and Komei, the last emperor before the capital was moved to Tokyo. The road leading to the shrine boosts a large torii gate, one of the largest (if not the largest) in Japan. Don't be too excited though: being a recent construction over a high-traffic road the torii is not made of one hundred years old wood...
The grounds of shrine itself can be divided in a few key areas. The centre of the grounds is occupied by a vast courtyard surrounded by the shrine's buildings. The colour of the buildings is the ubiquitous red-orange (which Pantone has probably under the "shrine orange" name), but the roof tiles are blue-green, which is not that common. This red-orange and blue-green are almost perfect complementary colours, which is probably not a coincidence and contributes to the "grand" feeling of the place.
The heart of the shrine is surrounded by various gardens that are accessible through a small door in the north-west corner of the courtyard. The first garden is a flower garden, which an old tramway car selected as final resting place (it could be worse...) Continuing clockwise is a pond (the first of three) where numerous flowers bloom in spring and early summer. After a narrow path which passes behind the Shrine main hall, you will reach a second pond with a few step stones (have a look the disclaimer message post) During the peak seasons tea is served in a small hut at the extremity of the pond. After another bottleneck you will reach the main pond (or lake?) with its numerous cherry blossom trees and it's signature covered bridge. Although the small prints at the back of the small entrance ticket say that the shrine is beautiful year-round (which may in fact be true), the shrine is much more beautiful during the very short cherry blossom season. During which you should not expect to see less than 5 tourists per square meter on the narrow paths. You've been warned ;-)
Recommended for: Access:
Nearby: Traditional Crafts Museum 京都伝統産業ふれあい館 (390m), Shōgo-in 聖護院 (390m), Ryuko-in 龍光院 (610m), Konkaikōmyō-ji 金戒光明寺 (630m), Murin-an 無鄰菴 (630m), Eishō-in 栄摂院 (630m), Namikawa Cloisonné Museum 並河靖之七宝記念館 (690m), Saiun-in 西雲院 (720m), Seiryu-tei 清流亭 (810m), Shinyo-dō 真如堂 (850m),...
External links: Website, ウィキペディア, Wikipedia, Wikipédia, Kyoto Navi, Trip Advisor, Kyoto Design, 京都風光, Inside Kyoto, Marutake, そうだ京都, Satellite view, Map
Keywords: Japan, 日本, Japon, Kyoto, 京都, 左京区, Sakyo-ku, Heian Jingu, 平安神宮, shrine, 神社, jinja, taisha, 大社