The massive vermilion and white walls of Heian Jingu are one of Kyoto's best-known symbols. Built in the 1890s to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of Kyoto's founding, Heian Jingu pays homage to the two emperors who bookend the city's era of national prominence: Kammu, who brought the imperial throne here in 794, and Komei, whose reign ending in 1866 saw the sun set on Kyoto's days as the capital. An assertion of Kyoto's unfaded splendor, Heian Jingu was built as a
slightly smaller replica of the Imperial Palace, destroyed in 1227. The architecture reveals China's strong influence on the early Japanese court. The astonishing red torii (gate), the biggest in Japan, and the three elaborate gardens behind the main shrine are particularly impressive. The complex makes a wonderful backdrop for several annual events, most famously the brazier-lighted dramas of Takigi No every June 1 and 2, and the Jidai Costume Festival on October 22. You can get here via Bus 5, 32, 46, or 100 to Kyoto Kaikan Bijutsukan-mae, Tozai subway to Higashiyama, or Keihan subway to Sanjo-dori.
Okazakinishi Tenno-cho, Kyōto, 606-8341, Japan