A to Wa of Japan: Week 30

It’s time for A to Wa of Japan again (a little early this week as I’ll be Hyper Japan-ing all weekend)! Last week’s post was about things beginning with ふ (fu) and we looked at Fukuoka (福岡).This week we are looking at things beginning with へ (he). A big thank you to those who joined in with suggestions this week:

Zooming Japan suggested that I shouldn’t write about hentai (変態 / perverse sexual desire); and Japan Australia suggested Heian Jingu (平安神宮 / a shrine in Kyoto), and heiwa (平和 / peace).

It seems like ‘he’ was a bit of a hard topic this week as I didn’t get many suggestions, so in the end I decided to write about…

Heian Jingu (平安神宮)

Heian Jingu

Heian Jingu, March 2009

Heian Jingu is a shrine in Kyoto which was built in 1895. The shrine is a partial reproduction of the Heian Palace from Heian-kyo (one of the former names of Kyoto), built according to designs by Ito Chuta. 1895 was the 1,100th year since the Heian Capital was founded, and the shrine was built to mark that occasion. Emperor Kammu, the 50th Emperor of Japan (781 – 806) is credited with moving the capital to Heian-kyo in 794, and the citizens of Kyoto decided to deify him as the ancestral god of Kyoto by creating Heian Jingu. The 121st ruler of Japan, Emperor Komei (1831 – 1867), was also deified at Heian Jingu, credited with laying the foundations of modern Japan. There are festivals in April and January, respectively, to remember the two emperors.

I’ve visited the shrine a couple of times and have always been amazed by the colour of it. The main buildings and the large torii gate that marks the entrance are all painted bright red and are very striking.

Heian Jingu torii

Heian Jingu torii, March 2009

The grounds at Heian Jingu are very spacious and peaceful, even during busy periods, and it’s a great place to go for cherry blossom viewing in April.

Heian Jingu

Heian Jingu, March 2009 (slightly too early for cherry blossom to be in full bloom)

October 22nd is a big day in Heian Jingu’s calendar, as it’s the Jidai Matsuri (時代祭り / Festival of the Ages). The festival takes place to mark the foundation of Kyoto, and consists of a parade that travels from the Imperial Palace to Heian Jingu. Participants dress in costumes from almost every period of Japanese history, and some dress as historical figures. It sounds like a really interesting festival, and I’d love to see it with someone who knew about Japanese history and could explain all the costumes to me!

Jidai Matsuri

Jidai Matsuri

(Image source)

Find out more about Heian Jingu on the official Heian Jingu website.


Next week we’ll start with ほ (ho), so please leave a comment below suggesting a topic for things beginning with ほ (I hope lots of you can join in next time!). Topics can be anything, as long as they are connected to Japan – food, places, people, characters, whatever you want to hear about! Just remember that the words you suggest must be Japanese words.

I look forward to hearing your suggestions!  (*^_^)v

6 thoughts on “A to Wa of Japan: Week 30

  1. I’m glad you found something for “He” other than hentai! *g*

    Heian Jingu is lovely, especially in spring! 🙂

    Suggestios for Ho:
    Hokkaido, Horikita Maki (popular actress)


  2. An interesting post as usual.

    Can I suggest Horumon (ホルモン)for next week? This is beef or pork offal/stomach/unidentified parts and is about the only thing that I cannot face eating when I’m in Japan. However it does seem to have become pretty popular in the last few years.


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