Yasaka Shrine in Kokura, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture, is the highest ranked shrine in the city and it stands on the ruin of the Kitanomaru building of Kokura Castle. The shrine was once called Gionsha and it was located in Imoji-machi. It was renamed Yasaka Shrine in the Meiji Period and transferred to íts current location in 1934.
The shrine already existed in the beginning of the Heian Period (794 to 1185) and it honored the god Susanouno-mikoto. After the Battle of Sekigahara (1600), Hosokawa Tadaoki was awarded a fiefdom in Kokura and he moved to Kokura Castle from Tango. He rebuilt the shrine in Imoji-machi and named it Gionsha, at where twelve deities including Susanouno-mikoto were worshiped.
According to legend, during his hunting trip with a falcon, Tadaoki found a small shrine and peeked inside for closer look at the statue of a deity. Suddenly, a falcon flew out from the shrine and damaged Tadaoki’s eyes with its talons. Facing the possible crisis of losing his eyes, Tadaoki saw it as a god’s punishment and he built a magnificent shrine to ask for forgiveness. His eyes are said to have healed after that.
Yasaka Shrine has long been deeply venerated as a guardian shrine by locals. The Kokura Gion Festival, held every July, is known as one of the Three Greatest Gion Festivals in Japan and the splendid performance of the Gion Taiko Drum is a must-see event that enchants spectators.
- 2-2 Jyounai, Kokura kita-ku, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture 802-0000
- Yasaka Shrine, Fukuoka