There are three stroll gardens at Heian Jingu, positioned east, west, and north of the shrine itself. They follow the Heian aesthetic of focusing on a large pond, which is a rare feature at a Shinto shrine. The stepping-stone path that crosses the water is made from the pillars of a 16th-century bridge that spanned the Kamo-gawa before an earthquake destroyed it. Shinen Garden, which is entered on the left as you face the main hall, should not be missed. Typical of gardens constructed during the Meiji Era, it's famous for its weeping cherry trees in spring, its irises and water lilies in summer, and its changing maple leaves in the fall.
Heian Jingu is the destination of the Jidai Matsuri, one of the three most important festivals of Kyoto. Held annually on October 22, it celebrates the founding of Kyoto and includes a huge, colorful procession. A parade of over 3,000 people attired in costumes from every period of Kyoto history winds its way from the original site of the Imperial Palace to the Heian Jingu.