What's Kitano Tenmangu like?
It is in here -Japan's first shrine to have a human as the main enshrined deity- that Sugawara-no-Michizane became to be worshipped as the God of Learning due to his clear and sharp mind. Every year during the examination season between the end of the year and the beginning of the New Year, many students come from all over the country to visit the shrine and pray for success in their exams.
Also, shrine festivals are held here on the 25th of every month, Sugawara-no-Michizane's birthday and death anniversary day. The 25th has such a deep connection with the shrine that major events tend to be held on this day of the month.
"Dearest plum flowers, when the easterly wind blows in the spring,
make sure to open up your sweet-smelling flowers.
Even if your master is not with you,
please never forget to flower in the spring."
As you walk around the plum garden at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, try remembering this song and see if you can feel what Sugawara-no-Michizane felt at the time.
In 1587, in Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, he gathered together from all over Kyoto a large number of people acquainted with the tea ceremony. He held a giant tea ceremony with approximately 1,000 people, in order to boast his great authority. In this ceremony, the people showcased their own style of tea ceremony using their most precious tea utensils. A nodate tea ceremony, in other words an open-air tea ceremony, was also held for the first time, which enjoyed great success. In line with this historical fact, nowadays every year on February 25th, under the plum trees at the best time for viewing their flower blossoms, the nodate tea ceremony is held with Maiko and Geiko performers from the Kamishichiken area. This splendid event is a true cultural highlight.