Established in 876 to protect Kyoto against epidemics, the famous Shinto shrine Yasaka-jinja was originally named Gion-sha, name that was later attached to the entire area, the today’s Gion district of Kyoto.
The origin of the “Gion” name is quite interesting, since it comes from… India. Here’s the story: the shrine was dedicated to Gozu Tennou, god of illness prevention, a deity originating from “Jeta vana", a legendary famous Buddhist vihāra (monastery) in India. “Vana” means grove (”shōja” in Japanese), and in Japanese the name “Jeta” was transformed to “Gion", so the name of the origin became “Gion shōja", hence the name of the shrine…
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: