[Kyoto] Here are some of the highlights and seven wonders of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, the god of learning!

KYOTO

Sightseeing

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In the northeastern part of downtown Kyoto, overlooking the Kyoto basin, lies an area called Nishijin. The area is famous for its textile industry and the production of Nishijin brocade, a silk fabric using dyed yarn.

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is located in the Nishijin area. It is said that there are seven wonders at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, which have been cherished as objects of faith since ancient times.

In this issue, we will introduce the Seven Wonders of Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine.

What is Kitano Tenmangu Shrine?

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Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is the head shrine of the 12,000 Tenmangu or Tenjin shrines located throughout Japan. The deity is Sugawara Michizane, a scholar, writer, and politician. The shrine is famous as the “god of learning,” and during the examination season, many students visit the shrine to pray for success in entrance examinations.

Receive blessings from the amulet!

There are a variety of good luck charms at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.

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Image courtesy :KITANO-TENMANGU

There are a variety of good luck charms at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.

It is said that Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is a sacred place where the energy of heaven works. It seems that happiness will descend from the heavens when you carry this beautiful five-color Hoshimamori.
<Blue>Improvement of sports and studies
<Red>Prayer for marriage, children, safety, and family safety
<Purple>Healing of illness and health and safety
<Yellow> Increase money and work luck
<White> Prayer for good luck and employment

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Image courtesy :KITANO-TENMANGU

Kangaku-mamori is very popular among students preparing for entrance exams. Many students clutch this omamori as they prepare for their entrance examinations. The white design is also very student-like. It is also popular among students on school excursions.

Extensive gardens that can be enjoyed in all four seasons

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Image courtesy :KITANO-TENMANGU

The historic site of the Godoi (Gate) at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, which is said to have been built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, is a famous place for maple trees. In autumn, about 350 maple trees turn red.

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Image courtesy :KITANO-TENMANGU

Blue maples in summer are also refreshing and popular.

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Image courtesy :KITANO-TENMANGU

It is also famous for its plum blossoms. There are 1,500 ume trees of about 50 varieties associated with Sugawara Michizane, and the ume garden is open to the public from early February to late March each year.

 

So, let us now introduce you to the Seven Wonders!

[Wonder1] Does Michizane appear when the first snow falls? Yougou-no-matsu

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The Yougou-no-Matsu is the pine tree depicted at the back of the Noh stage. The Yougou-no-matsu pine tree at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is located on the right side of the main approach, just after passing through the Ichino Torii gate.
At Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, there is a legend that if the first snow falls between Risshunyu and spring, Tenjin-sama will descend on the pine tree on the morning of the snowfall and compose a poem.
Every year, a ritual called “Hatsuyuki Matsuri” is held and an inkstone, brush, and ink stick are offered to the god.

[Wonder 2] There is no main shrine at the end of the approach! The main shrine avoiding the front

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Normally, the approach to a shrine is a straight walk to the main hall, but in the case of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, the path turns off to the left and then heads toward the main hall.
This is because the “Jishu Shrine” standing in front of the approach to the shrine was enshrined before the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine was built. The reason for this is that the main shrine, which enshrines Sugawara no Michizane, was placed at a slightly different location in consideration of the god who was originally enshrined at the shrine.

[Wonder 3] Three Missing Lights? Sanko-mon Gate with missing stars

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Sanko-mon Gate, the middle gate. Sanko-mon means the sun, the moon, and the stars, but only the sun and the moon are depicted on this gate, not the stars. Why is this?
The approach across the Sanko-mon Gate leads north to south, and the Daigoku-den Hall in the Heian period (794-1185) was located west of the present-day Gosho. It is said that when the emperor of the Imperial Palace prayed to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, the North Star shone directly above this middle gate, and thus the Sanko-mon Gate is said not to have a star painted on it on purpose.

[Wonder 4] Try Your Luck with Stone lanterns, Too! Daikokuten Stone lantern

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There are about 300 stone lanterns at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, and Daikokuten is depicted on the base of some of them.
Try your luck to see if you can put a pebble on this Daikoku-sama’s mouth. It is said that if you successfully place the pebble in your wallet, you will have no trouble with money. The pebble is also popular among students preparing for entrance exams because it “not falls off”.

[Wonder 5] Only one in Kitano Tenmangu Shrine! The only standing bull

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There are a total of about 18 statues of cows at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. All of those cows are in a prone style.
This is derived from the legend that an ox pulling a car carrying the body of Michizane Sugawara was enshrined on the spot because the ox sat down and stopped moving on the way to the shrine.
For this reason, a prone cow is the most common type of cow at Tenmangu Shrine, but for some reason, the central sculpture in the main hall is the only one that depicts a standing cow.
Please look for the only standing bull in Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.

[Wonder 6] On the Backside of the Main Shrine? The shrine behind the main shrine

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At shrines, people usually pray from the front of the main hall, but at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine there is a place to pray at the rear of the main hall as well.
The shrine enshrines three deities: Sugawara no Korezen, father of Sugawara no Michizane; Sugawara no Kiyomikoto, grandfather of Sugawara no Michizane; and Amenohohoninomikoto, god of ancestors, known as “Gokou-no-Mihashira” or “three pillars of the empress.
After visiting the main shrine, please do not forget to visit the shrine behind the main shrine.

[Wonder 7] Mt. Tengu protects the dry (northwest) side of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

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The Godoi Gate was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the founder of the Toyotomi clan. Today, a part of it remains as a historic site, and can be visited together with Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.
There is a small mountain on the north side of the Doi, which is called “Tenguyama” . An Edo period illustration shows a tengu on that mountain, and it is said that tengu used to live there. It has been considered a particularly sacred place because it is located further to the dry side of the precincts of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, which stands in the dry (northwest) side of the city and was responsible for the protection of the capital.

Thus, Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is a representative shrine of Kyoto with a long history. That is why there are so many highlights.
One way to enjoy strolling the grounds of the shrine is to follow the Seven Wonders of Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine. Take a look at each of them and visit them. It will make your visit to the shrine even more memorable.

 

Reference: Tabicoffret
https://tabicoffret.com/
(Japanese only)

LOCATION INFORMATION

Address

Bakurocho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto

Access

Take the Kyoto city bus(55) from Hankyu Kyoto Line Omiya Station and alight at Kitano Tenmangu-mae.
It's a short walk away.
Take the Kyoto city bus(203) from Hankyu Kyoto Line Saiin Station and alight at Kitano Tenmangu-mae.
It's a short walk away.

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