A stroll through the park will bring you to one of my favorite Shinto shrines in  the Kyoto area. Originally the tutelary shrine of the powerful Fujiwara family, it was founded in 768 and, according to Shinto concepts of purity, was torn down and rebuilt every 20 years in its original form until 1863 (in 2015/2016 it will be torn down and rebuilt again, a momentous occasion sure to attract many visitors). As virtually all empresses hailed from the Fujiwara family, the shrine enjoyed a privileged status with the imperial family. Nestled in the midst of verdant woods (the Kasugayama Primeval Forest rising behind it has been protected since the 9th century), it’s a shrine of vermilion-colored pillars and an astounding 3,000 stone and bronze lanterns. The most spectacular time to visit is mid-August or the beginning of February, when all 3,000 lanterns are lit. Although admission to the grounds is free, admission is charged for the garden of Kasuga Grand Shrine, Shin-en, a botanical garden preserving about 300 varieties of native Japanese plants and famous for its wisteria (it’s located to the left on the approach to the shrine), and to the Homotsuden, a treasure house displaying costumes, swords, and armor in exhibitions that change four times a year. Fork out the extra yen only if you have time and the interest.